It is not very often that one gets to meet an Indian classical male dancer who is extremely handsome with a dashing personality and an attitude that shows years of his dance training. My trip to the United States of America some time back was very fruitful and exciting because I got to meet many dancers from all over the world. But this young, dynamic and extremely gorgeous Bharatanatyam dancer I will never be able to forget for a long time to come.
Let me introduce to you the superbly talented Unnath HR, son of HB Rathnaraju and Jayapadma and the disciple of Guru Vidhusi Ambale Rahjeshwari, a well-known name in the field of dance in India and abroad. He is a post graduate in both dance and English Literature, Vidwath in dance (professional graduate in dance from the Karnataka State Board) and has been presented on stage in the major cities of India as well as in the US, Russia, Belarus, Malaysia and Thailand. He made his Sri Lanka debut to great acclaim in 2016.
Unnath has won many prestigious awards and titles such as “Ekalabya Sanman” in 2009 from Orissa, “Natya Koustuba” in 2009, from Andhra Pradesh, “Abhinaya Nrutya Koumudhi” in 2010, from Andhra Pradesh, “Natraj Gopi Krishana Samman” in 2010, from Mumbai, Maharashtra, “Kalamandir Puruskaram”in 2013 at Peravoor, Kerala and “Natya Mayooram” for the best performance in 2014, April, Bhilai, Chhattisgarh. He stood “First Best Season Performer” of India in 2012, Pune.
Unnath is an ‘A’ grade artiste at Dooradarshan and has directed many dance ballets and choreographed various dance repertory in Bharathanatyam, specialising in the Mysore School and folk styles. He is the principal and artistic director of Natyakala Nivas which was awarded the best culture revival centre for 2014; Travel Puruskar from Maldives Arts Council and GCC, Karnataka. He is training more than 150 students and serves as the managing trustee for “Rathnakala Padma Kuteera Trust”. The credit of choreographing thousands of students for Republic Day and Independence Day from the past three years goes to Unnath. Today, he has crossed training more than 20,000 school students. Unnath is a member of esteemed group Prayathnam, classical dance exponents based in Chennai.
In India from Hampi Utsav to Natraj Gopi Krishan Dance Festival, from Natraj Dance Festival to Sankara and Noopra Dance festival he has performed at all of them. Not just that, the dancers world over recognise Unnath and his work as he has been a part of some very prestigious dance platforms such as the Battery Dance Festival in New York City, Incredible India in Huston Texas, Indian Culture Heritage Foundation, Dallas, Texas, Ganga Production at Temple of Fine Arts, Kuala Lampur , Malaysia, Performance for Rabi Chaya in Colombo Sri Lanka.
Not just that, this Bharatanatyam dancer has conducted workshops spreading the rich India culture and tradition at SARA Knight Ballet school and Irving School, New York City, Asiatic Society, in Dallas, USA and also for the Army Band, Dancers Guiled, Chanadana Dancers in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Unnath has choreographed, scripted and composed music for many ballets some of which are Dashamaha Vidya (10 forms of Shakti), Asta Lakshmi (8 forms of Lakshmi), Soma, the survivor (a folk-based ballet), Punyakoti (also folk-based), Dasaavataram (10 incarnations of Lord Vishnu), Bhakthi, Gnana and Viraagya, a philosophical adoration to the Bhakti movement and many more.
The talent of Unnath just does not end as a terrific dance teacher and a marvellous performer. He is also an organiser of five prestigious dance festivals — Nrutya Milinda, the annual festival that aims in meeting the international standards for Indian performing arts, inviting professional artistes from various parts of India; Suprajavath, a festival for budding children; Masika, a monthly festival for local or native artistes which invites artistes from Hassan district and includes forms such as light music, Hindustani and Carnatic music, classical dance forms and fine arts; Trimasika, a festival that provides platforms for traditional dance and music and focusses on state level performers, allowing the performers to come with their creative piece or own choreographies and the most unique festival of them all is NKN Forum, a forum for mentally abused artistes. This forum provides performance opportunities for artistes coming from various backgrounds.
At a very young age, Unnath has achieved a lot but when I got talking to this young man that I that he has his roots deep into his city and his love for the land could be felt in his words and seen through his bright speaking eyes. I had a chat with the talented artiste…
You have achieved a lot at a very young age. What are your future plans?
I want to create a forum of psychiatry, psychology with doctors, councillors and arts to overcome the basic child problems such as Asperger’s Syndrome, autism, bipolar disorders, dyslexia etc. Not just that, I want to organise school programmes to cultivate balanced, social and freedom of education.
Tell me more about Dance Library?
In 2015, I started building up a library which has reached a level of finishing. To me, dancing is not just dancing but connecting ourselves to its interdisciplinary cycle of life, philosophy and methodology of learning. Internet can facilitate only a limited source of material to read and understand, but still there is a need for more. As a reader, I had collected books on various subjects since 2008 and thought the habit shall help few budding and pursuing little minds to enrich their knowledge in the field of dance, music, ancient history, philosophy, art history and development, architecture, archaeology and their connections through interdisciplinary studies.
How can one become a part or help your unique Dance Library?
The easiest way is donation, not in terms of money but by donating books related to any performing or visual arts, philosophy, archaeology, architecture, ancient history, mythology, epics, historical development of places, cultures, traditions, development of forms, dance, music, instruments, dictionaries, linguistic evidences and development, tribal traces, etc. One thing I promise is that the donors names shall be engraved on the library’s walls.
I have to say that artistes like Unnath are very uncommon who use their Greek God Adonis looks and the god gifted talent of dance in the right direction so that they can promote the art and at the same time, leave back a legacy that will be remembered forever.
Sandip Soparrkar is a well known Latin and Ballroom dancer, a World Book of Records holder and a Bollywood choreographer who has been honoured with National Achievement Award and National Excellence Award by the Govt of India. He can be contacted on [email protected]