“It is liberating to dance. It also makes me nostalgic for my childhood, when I was free of the daily pressures of work and life,” says Anjali Amar, country manager, Verizon Enterprise Solutions. Her tryst with Kathak began at the age of three, when her mother enrolled her in a dance school in Meerut. It was an attempt to make Anjali socialise. But, it gifted her a life-long passion for the art. Amar began practising it three hours regularly.
Kathak holds the key to a treasure chest of fond childhood memories. She gave her first stage performance when she was just six and her first solo performance when she was eight. By the tender age of seven, she had mastered dancing on the edges of a parat (a flat plate). This is usually done after years of training in Kathak. Reminiscing about her first big solo, she says, “Just when I was about to enter the stage, it started raining. It was a cold winter evening in Meerut. For a moment I lost all hope that anyone would stay to watch my performance. But, to my surprise, when my performance ended, there was an entire crowd of people cheering and applauding.”
Trained under the Lucknow gharana of Kathak, she completed six years of formal training when she was 12-years-old. She was the youngest to do so in her dance class and also the first to pass with a first division from Meerut.
Encouraged, Amar went on to perform in many such shows including inter-school and state-level competitions. “Sometimes I won and, on some occasions, I lost,” she says. But one thing that she had undoubtedly achieved was overcoming her stage fright. These performances had built her confidence, which now helps her lead the country operations for Verizon Enterprises.
Like it is said, it’s never too late to learn something new. Three years back, she started training in Bollywood and western styles of dancing, practising three to four times a week despite her busy schedule. This practice was abruptly stopped when her brother passed away, leaving her emotionally scarred. But her love for Kathak was not diminished. She now practises on weekends, even teaching her 12-year-old daughter on occasions. “Sometimes she wants to learn the mudras and abhinaya. My daughter is always excited about the lessons and dressing up for it.”
Amar’s favourite dance narrative is one on the love affair of Radha and Krishna. “You have to enact both the characters. The story is that Radha is waiting for Krishna and, when he arrives, he breaks her full water pot with a stone. Radha is angry, but her reaction is a mixture of emotions, and you have to depict that.”
These days, at parties, people often ask her how she manages to dance so well. Amar laughs, “They don’t know that the perfection comes from years of practice and refining the mudras and postures. Now, it comes naturally, without conscious effort. I am always the first to get onto the dance floor and the last to leave.”