Inexplicable charm, mesmerising footwork, and graceful movements, these are Kathak exponent Malti Shyam‘s greatest assets which keep us glued while watching her perform.
Malti strongly believes she has been born only to perform as a dancer. Her devotion towards the art has seen Malti take a huge leap in career, making waves at the national and international scene.
Describing the dance form, Malti says, “Every aspect of Kathak is beautiful, Kathak is a deep dance form, earlier it was male-dominated, now, we see female dancers doing exceptionally well, which is wonderful.”
Malti captivates audiences as her unique rhythmic virtuosity sets the right tone during her performances.
Dance has been an integral part of her life, having started dancing as early at the age of 11. “I have been enjoying dance from the beginning. During my childhood days, I used to get inspired by nature. I used to get fascinated, could feel music and dance dwelling in arms of the forces.”
She gets inadvertently pulled towards the magical power of music which brings out the best in her as a dancer.
Each gharana has its own style and peculiarities. According to the style followed by the Lucknow Gharana, it gives importance to graceful movements, elegance and natural poise with dance. Likewise, each Gharana offers certain aspects which become hallmarks of a particular school. “It requires years to understand and get a grip over those specialisations. But I have seen many dancers undergo training at different schools. However, I was associated with one school,” added Malti.
As a guru, Malti plays the role of a teacher and mentor, which is crucial in this domain, to the core, being patient and generous in sharing knowledge. She has students visiting her from as far as South Africa. Gurus don’t just teach you to dance, they shape our lives, that is how Malti perceives teacher-student relationship.
She strongly feels that guru shishya is a unique bonding necessary for both, the guru and the shishya as well. “The guru should realise, love and freedom are the two basic virtues, on which the relationship is based upon. If the guru has evolved as an artist, he or she allows the student to perform after a certain level of training is complete.
It goes both ways, students should also aspire to inculcate the nuances of the process. If the guru is full of love and offers freedom, the student will come back to him or her.” Malti said.
Kathak is being appreciated from all parts of the world, Chinese students are showing great interest in learning. There are Kathak fans in London, Singapore, New York, Washington and some parts of Europe. Recently, South Africans have been enrolling in schools teaching Kathak.
Malti is all praise about Bollywood, as she feels it has portrayed Kathak beautifully, given the dance form a larger audience by bringing it to foreground depicting its elegance on a vast canvas.
“Personally am not part of the race. The right candidate should be awarded as it also honours the award,” Malti said while describing her take on the award system.
“Growing mature as an artist is important, a lot of patience, discipline and focus on practice are prerequisites,” she said while stressing on training and practice, which she feels should be followed on a regular basis.
Smeetha Singh Maharaj, who runs Nateshwar Dance company, in South Africa, has flown down to Mumbai with her group of students for a special workshop conducted by Malti at Ninad Studio beautifully designed by its owner, Kathak exponent Dr Tina Tambe.
Smeetha has been completely in awe with Malti’s dedication and humbleness, “She lits up the stage with her performance, as she enjoys dance, she passes on the feeling to the audience, mesmerising them and leaving them wanting for more”, adds Smeetha.