Fifteen-year-old T.T. Elavasari from Sungai Siput, a small town in the state of Perak in Malaysia is passionate about dancing. Her interest in the Indian classical dance form Barathanatyam started when she was just seven years old. Recognising their daughter’s interest, her parents enrolled her into a dance class. However, by the time she was in standard six, the family started facing financial hardship and Elavarasi had to pull out of dance lessons.
Elavarasi was heartbroken but remained hopeful that one day she could go back to her lessons.
In 2017, RYTHM Foundation introduced the Maharani Program to Elavarasi’s school and spoke to the students about the Maharani Learning Lab in Sungai Siput. The program caught her attention. Elavarasi attended the Maharani camp in 2017 and enrolled in the Maharani learning lab the same year.
“I know my parents regretted their decision to stop my dance lessons, but they simply could not afford it. I secretly wished that God will help me and my family. To my surprise, my prayers were answered and now I can attend free Barathanatyam classes at the Maharani Learning Lab,” says a beaming Elavarasi.
Apart from dance class, she also currently attends the academic classes on Saturdays as her parents could not afford to pay for tuition classes.
Asked about a high point in this experience, she says, “I was so happy when I was given the chance to perform Barathanatyam in front of RYTHM Foundation chairperson, Datin Sri Umayal Eswaran, who is herself a classical dancer.” she said.
Elavarasi has also enrolled in other classes in the Learning Lab such as jewellery making, handicrafts, and baking.
“I am learning so many skills and getting so much knowledge by attending these classes. I feel so blessed to be given such an opportunity. I am sure Maharani Programme will be able to help so many girls like me to develop themselves in the future,” she said.