This is part I of a three-part series of articles.

The career path of a successful performer is typically linear: build a reputation, build fame and build an empire. 

A path far less travelled, usually the preserve of the world’s great artistic personages, is that of teacher and guide. It has been taken only by the likes of people such as Rabindranath Tagore, who alone springs immediately to mind.

Such a rare bird and one much younger than Tagore, is Rukmini Vijayakumar, a Bangalore-based Bharatanatyam dancer. 

Rukmini Vijayakumar

Before she was thirty, Vijayakumar had established the Raadha Kalpa dance school and the LshVa Collective and Art Space, a trust she established to “support and promote artists of excellence, identify young talent and offer direction”.

Modelling and acting assignments have boosted Vijayakumar’s profile. Recent high profile ad campaigns she has fronted include Mac cosmetics and Lakmé skin cream.

Vijayakumar fronting high profile advertising campaigns for Lakmé and Mac cosmetics

The interesting thing, however, is that these campaigns appear to support Vijayakumar’s greater life, a life focused on driving the culture of training, learning and education, rather than the other way around as is typically the norm.

Vijayakumar also conducts two training ‘intensives’, one in the US and one in India, which “help dedicated and serious dancers to grow intellectually, technically and spiritually in the art of Bharatanatyam”.

Rukmini Vijayakumar with some of her younger students

All this great service for others was achieved while Vijayakumar was an internationally touring dancer as well as fund raiser for educational charity, the All India Movement (AIM) for Seva (Service) established by Swami Dayananda Saraswati.

Rukmini Vijayakumar with LshVa Collective dance colleagues

Her performances reveal Vijayakumar to be a strong and spirited personality, but again we find Vijayakumar to be a rare bird – a mixture of strength and love. This latter quality is evident in her choreography, which will be covered in a future article.

The psychological roots of this quality can be found in the musings Vijayakumar shares on her blog, which I would recommend to any artist seeking a deep level of self-empowerment.

Looking up and looking onwards, always. Rukmini Vijayakumar.