Kavitha Cheedalla is the acting Director of Kalamandapam – a Kuchipudi school in Fairfax, VA. Originally started under the guidance of Guru Mrinalini Sadananda, Kavitha runs the institution along with the help of other volunteer teachers. Kavitha’s childhood dream of learning to dance got realized when she joined Kalamandapam as a student in 1999 along with her daughter. Since then, she has grown into a gracious dancer and now teaches and runs the school.
Kavitha lives in Manassas with her husband Ravinder, and works at Round Elementary School, Manasass, VA. They have two adult daughters who also have learned Kuchipudi at Kalamandapam and are now married and live in Northern VA
This her spotlight:
1. When did you start your dance school and describe your first year.
I started teaching at kalamandapam in 2005. Teaching the students helped me perfect my own dance. I remember I had to show and explain the foot work. I would teach the steps over and over again which also taught me patience.
2. Who are your gurus and how did you start dancing?
My first guru was Madhavapeddi Murthy. I was looking for a dance teacher for my daughters. I found Mrinalini Aunty through a friend and enrolled them in April 1999. Aunty mentioned a dance master was visiting to do a summer camp. I took them to start the camp. With the encouragement of Subhash Vinjamuri, I found myself starting the summer camp along with my girls. Throughout the years, I have been fortunate to learn from several teachers including Madhavapeddi Murthy, Sathyapriya Ramana, Pasumarthy Vithal, Bala KondalaRao, and Bhagavathula Srinivasa Sarma.
3. One dancer/musician who continues to inspire you.
My guru Mrinalini Sadananda is such a creative and talented person. She has put together many dance ballets with the help of her brother Subhash Vinjamuri who together are an amazing team. My Guru and my students continue to inspire me and keep me young.
4. What are your challenges as a dance teacher?
Trying to help students build stamina and keep their energy levels up by reviewing basics. It is challenging to practice old dances and teach new items in one weekly class. It is also tough keeping up with performances as kids are involved in multiple extra curricular activities.
5. Seeing the students perform is always a moment of pride. What is that extra thing they do that makes you feel grateful and happy, and maybe even bring a tear in your eyes?
I feel grateful that I am fortunate to learn this ancient art and happy that I am able share this with the next generation. It feels wonderful to see the growth in your students and get goosebumps when you watch them perform.
6. If you had to pick just 3 qualities for a good student of dance, what would that be?
Hard work, aim for perfection, and be humble.
7. It’s 2029, where do you see your dance school and yourself as Guru?
I would hope to see Kalamandapam being led by a current student or students that will continue the tradition. For myself, I hope to choreograph in new and exciting ways to keep up with the new generation
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Disclaimer: The contents of this post is entirely that of the interviewee. The post may have been edited for language clarity, but not for content.