30 November, 2013
- by Hema Iyer
“ The song that lies silent in the heart of a mother sings upon the lips of her child.” – Kahlil Gibran ,Sand and Foam. Uma NamboodaripadSatyanarayanan was initiated into the magical world of music and dance by her mother at a tender age of six.Music continued in an uninterrupted manner with Rajimami, all through her stay at Nagpur, where the two Namboodari sisters enthralled audiences, and Uma won several prizes at various competitions, all the time learning different kinds of music –Natya Sangeet, Bhajans, Abhangs, Bhavgeet and so on. She even won a CCRT scholarship for Music at the age of ten,and from then on, she began to play an active role as part of the light music orchestra. Language seemed to be no barrier for young Uma, as she participated in Pashuram competition, and winning it, although she knew no Tamizh at that time. Nagpur provided the perfect setting for her to grow musically ,imbibing various genres of Music- even learning ghazals and old film songs ! Her ability to grasp music lessons with ease also made her a little laid back, when it came to the sadhana of practicing music. She reminisces fondly about her playing the tampura for Bombay Jayashri and Vijay Shiva at the age of 14 , recalling that the latter even told her to get her nails cut !
So while music was injected strongly into her system, simultaneously, Uma also began learning dance from the age of six. Though she did not witness much of classical dance in Nagpur at that time, a treat camein the form of a five day Kuchipudi Arts Fest. Gurus Vanashree and Jayarama Rao , who came for the festival then began to take classes , ten days in a month. On their very first annual day show, young Uma was given an opportunity to perform a solo piece by her Guruji. But unfortunately , these classes were discontinued after a few years. It was then that Uma came under the tutelage of Srimathi , a beautiful dancer of the Mysore bani. She was among the first disciples to have her arangetram at the age of sixteen. She even sent Uma for a month’s gurukulam in Bangalore with her Guru, LalithaSrinivasa of Nupura Academy. Uma learnt all that she could imbibe from this teacher and soon complete her formal education with a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce. She won the National scholarship from the Ministry of Tourism and Culture. The turning point came in the form of the teacher’s magnanimity – “ Uma, it’s time for you to move on. I have taught all that I know. I’d however advise you to move to Madras to delve deeper.”
This time, it was the turn of her parents to show their generosity. Without a second thought, they made a decision to move their base to Chennai. Many of Uma’s friends were surprised by her decision not only to turn down a job offer , but also to move to Madras- all for the sake of dance ! Her relatives played a role in helping her to reach the Guru that Destiny had chosen for her, ChitraVisweswaran. She recalls her first meeting- “ I was asked to perform a small item, after which akka asked me whether I could sing. And when she heard me, she said, ‘ Wait here for Viswes to come.’ When uncle listened to me sing a Dikshitarkriti, he was so happy .” From then on, there was no looking back- Uma was formally engulfed into the Viswes household, this time learning both music and dance under the same roof .
From then on, it was a whirlwind romance with the Arts, and the entire day was packed only with music and dance ,with time for nothing else. Like all good Gurus who fashion out their pots at the wheel, so also Uma was under constant scrutiny and care of her Gurus, with both demanding excellence and perfection in their respective areas of expertise. And so, the stone was chiselled until it began to shine. Graduating from participation in group performances, she soon began to perform as a soloist, carving a niche for herself under the benevolent eyes of her Guru. She has travelled widely both as a dancer and an accompanying musician .Chitra’s spiritual leanings have also influenced her deeply and she feels blessed to have the grace of Guru Vittamma.
Uma’s journey and her commitment to the artform sees her growing from strength to strength, and the acknowledgement comes in the way of accolades and awards. Besides the title of “ NRITYA SUNDARAM” from Anita Guha’sBharatanjali Trust, she is also on the threshold of receiving the prestigious “ NADANAMAMANI” award from KARTIK FINE ARTS.
Looking back with happiness at her artistic life, Uma draws her strength from her Guru Chitra’swords : “ Dance teaches us to express. But more importantly, it teaches us to control.” Armed with this advice, Uma moves on in her artistic journey under the spotlight.