Raeva Mulloth did not want to take after her mother, Sujata Nair-Mulloth.
Sujata is the founder of the Kala School of Indian Classical Dance, located in South Abington Township. Raeva recently completed her Arangetram, her maiden solo performance, that shows a dance student's devotion not just to the art form but also to her Guru who, in this case, was her mother.
"I actually didn't really want to dance because my mother was the teacher," Raeva said. "When I was seven or eight, all of my friends' parents pushed them to do it, so I thought maybe I should try it. I ended up liking it and continued."
Raeva's decision to learn Bharata Natayam, the Indian classical dance that is passed down from Guru, teacher, to shishya, student, by word of mouth, thrilled her mother.
"Dance is a passion for me and it was so nice to see that my daughter was interested in the same thing," Sujata said. "My husband is interested in sports, so she very well could have taken after him. She just one day decided to join and it was totally her decision. That made me very happy. Teaching her, you would always find more mistakes and want her to be more precise than she was doing or do it better. I guess I was harder on her, if you will. I think it was very satisfying and very emotional."
Sujata explained that Indian classical dance lessons are taken up much in the same way that American children begin ballet classes. In fact, many of the movements are similar to those found in ballet.
"The human body is the same no matter where you come from and there are only so many movements," she said. "It shows you how similar we all are."
Raeva's Arangetram performance was also her graduation piece from her mother's school. For all schools of Indian classical dance, students have a set curriculum that they must adhere to. If a student does not perform the Arangetram, graduation is not considered to have taken place and the student cannot perform as a solo performer.
Overall, the experience Sujata and Raeva had while creating her Arangetram served to strengthen their bond as mother and daughter. The Arangetram performance held on Saturday, April 13, was also a fundraiser for the National Brain Tumor Society; Sujata suffered from a brain tumor when Raeva was younger.
"We did a lot of things and collaborated on the dance and its choreography," Sujata said. "It let me see a lot more about her or how she was evolving. As a mother, you want to know how your child is developing and evolving. Working close together helped me see a little more of the things I might have missed otherwise."
"I got to see what her passion was and why she liked it so much," Raeva said. "She showed me what she likes to do and I saw another side of her."