It is believed that to be successful in the field of art, especially dance, one has to live in a metro city. It is believed Delhi is the central point for classical dancers as most of the big names in the classical world live in the National Capital. Next in line are Mumbai, Kolkata, Bengaluru and Chennai because many renowned institutes are located in these cities. So this belief is very popular among dancers that to achieve the pinnacle of success, one needs to make it to these Jadoo Nagris (magical cities) their home.
But there is one superbly talented man who proves that this belief is totally wrong. Let me introduce to you my dear friend, a Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi exponent Dr G Ratheesh Babu who lives in a small town called Bhilai in Chhattisgarh but has made his gurus proud by performing at almost all the prestigious dance festivals of India and at the same time has kept the Tricolour flying high by showcasing his talent all over the world through his shows and workshops.
I met Ratheesh Babu at a dance show a few years back and despite coming from different dance backgrounds, we instantly connected as people and I started to follow the illustrate work of this brilliant artiste. What is gripping about Dr Babu’s personality is his humility. He is one dancer who is not affected at all by all the awards and praises he has received for his creative work. This humility makes him a very special man and it is seen with all the respect and love he gets from all his students and fans.
Today, let me try and brief you all with a few of this dynamic artiste’s achievements. He holds the prestigious titles of Natya Choodamani and Nritya Kala Bharathi, so actually the right way to address a scholar like him would be to call him Natya Choodamani Nritya Kala Bharathi Shri G Ratheesh Babu. He is a disciple of Kalaimamani Padmashri Adayar K Laxman and his name appears in one of the highly acclaimed and renowned dancers of India, he continues to be totally involved in the art of dance both as a teacher and a performer.
Ratheeshji was introduced to the world of Indian classical dance at the age of five under the tutelage of Guru Kalanilayam Krishnan Kutty from Kerala and he learned his first steps in Mohiniattam. Then he moved ahead and learned the intricacies of Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi dance form under the able guidance of Smt Amritam Gopinath, Aryakalanilayam and Ms Barnona Basu from Mumbai. Later, he moved to Chennai to specialise in Bharatanatyam under the guidance of Kalaimamani Padma Shri Shri Adayar K Laxman. He also learned the details and complexities of Carnatic music under the guidance of Shri Trissur T Unnikrishnan, IKSV, Khairagarh.
After taking the blessings of his gurus, he used the gift of dance and displayed his immense talent by performing in all major sabhas and festivals in India and abroad. Ratheeshji is an amazingly graceful and gifted dancer, a classicist in the field of Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi and Mohiniattam as a dancer, teacher and choreographer. He is the founder-director of Nrithyathi Kalakshetram – School of Indian Classical Dance which is affiliated to Indira Kala Sangeet Vishwavidyalaya; Khairagarh.
For sheer geometry of lines and precise structure beauty of form, he has stretched his capacity for perfection to its utmost. By his astounding and exquisite dance, he has dazed the audience with his scintillating performances in India and also abroad. His versatile talent and her gracious inner artistic beauty won wide acclaim from art lovers, connoisseurs and natyaacharyas for his spellbound performances and art critics as one of the best-recognised dancer.
He has also been adorned with several prestigious awards from the Government of India as well as renowned cultural organisations. You will be surprised to know that till date Ratheesh Babu has staged approximately 1,300 shows, both solo and group dances. He also conducted workshops and has imparted training through Nrithyathi’s Learning Centres located at Raipur, Bhilai, Durg, Nagpur, Bhopal, Pune, Kannur, Vizag, Bangalore and many more cities in India.
He has a long list of awards under his belt. I will have to cut the list and only tell you a few like Nritya Vaibhawa Award by Akhil Bhartiya Sanskrutik Sangh, Lifetime Achievement Award by Himachal Tourism & All India Artist Association, Rashtriya Samaikya Bharat Gaurav Satkar by Madras Telugu Academy, Balraj Sahani National Award by All India Artist Association, International Man of the Year by American Biographical Society, South Carolina, Gopi Krishna National Award from All India Artist Association, Rajhans National Award, Nrithyakala National Award, GC Lagan Award for outstanding performance in the field of dance from All India Artist Association, Mumbai.
The list is still going on. He has also received Bharat Nritya Gaurav Samman by Navya Nataka Samiti, National award Rashtra Retna By Anthara Sangeeth Vidyalaya, Nrithya Retna Award by Utkal yuva sanskrutik sangh, Nrithya Vigyan award from Kalanilayam, Rashtriya Nrithya Kalopasana Award from True India Cultural society, Kala Nipuna Award, Gaurav Puraskar, Nrithya Chatura, Sri Balaji Jyoti Samman, Jayadev Rashtriya Samman, Natya Moukthika.
Not just awards but he has been honoured with two doctorates in the field of Indian classical dance by University of Global Peace (USA) & Royal Academy of Peace (UK) and the prestigious Guru Samman- Life Time Achievement Award by Sanskar Bharati.
I am sure you must be wondering and that after travelling and performing all over the world why Dr Babu does not live in Delhi or Mumbai or settle abroad may be. Well, I too had the same question in my mind so I asked him exactly the same thing and the refined dancer promptly replied, “I developed by art of teaching dance in Bhilai so my heart remains here. Apart from that Bhilai is like mini India, you will find people of all castes, religions and communities here. I am a true Indian at heart and in spirit. I travel all over India and the world but peace and contentment I get in Bhilai.”
Dr Babu not just believes in teaching and performing but he also strongly believes in giving back to the community and provide a platform for other dancers. For this he organises Major National Level cultural events every year, like: Natvar Gopikrishna National Award Function, Samanwayam Festival in collaboration with Indian Dance Ally, Nritha Nrithyathi – A Festival of Indian classical dances, Impulse – Desire to Dance, Param – All India Classical Solo Dance Competition, Natyanjali – A Mahashivaratri festival of dance, All India Competition of Music & Dance. To encourage the kids he arranges Nrithya Basant – An International Spring Festival Bala Nritya Kalotsava – A festival for the artistes of ages 14 & below.
This highly elegant and gifted artist believes that it is not the city but your art and love for the art that makes you spread the essence of your talent. If you have the blessings of your elders and Gurus, fire in your belly, conviction to prove your talent and belief in oneself and in God then nothing is impossible and “that what makes me unstoppable” says my friend Dr Ratheesh Babu.
Sandip Soparrkar is a World Book Record holder, a well known Ballroom dancer and a Bollywood choreographer who has been honoured with two National Excellence awards and one National Achievement Award by the Govt of India. He can be contacted on [email protected]