Hailing from Perumbavoor, a suburb of Kochi in the Indian State of Kerala, I was brought up as the youngest and only daughter in a very close-knit family rooted in traditions and cultural ethos. Dad, (Krishnan Kutty) loves Indian classical dance, especially Kathakali and mom (Kalamandalam Sumathi) is a brilliant exponent of Bharatanatyam, Mohiniyattam, and Kuchipudi. She has been teaching dance from our home-studio, "Natyalaya," long before I was born. Her rhythmic movements and the sound of her mutti or tattu kazhi (an instrument used to keep the beat in dance comprising a wooden plank and a stick) were perhaps ingrained in me even while I was still in the womb. With dad, mom and my brothers (Venugopal and Balagopal), egging me on, they say I started to dance even before I could walk!
I came to Dubai with my better-half Sharath, in 1994. I was instantly bowled over and mesmerized by the sights and sounds of this booming metropolis in the middle of the Arabian Desert where the future seemingly meets the past. Sharath, a seasoned UAE expat, helped me settle down very quickly. Very soon, I started working as a Radio Jockey with a local FM Channel and started enjoying my work and my new life here in Dubai. Even as an RJ I yearned to dance and encouraged by Sharath, after work I started teaching dance at home, beginning with two students, which very soon grew in number to about 30-40, including my daughters, Uthara and Keerthana.
Within a couple of years, prompted by a flood of requests for dance lessons, I set up the Kairali Kalakendram as a fully-fledged dance school at Ghusais, Dubai. It was around this time, encouraged by Sharath and the girls that I began my career in television and the movies. Thankfully, it offers unexpected opportunities to spend more time with dad and mom, as shooting locations are primarily in Kerala. Mastering the art of emoting is central to classical Indian dance. I believe this helped me take to acting like a duck to water, quite naturally, despite having started later than usual.
The joy of being able to see my children grow every day while still being able to do something I love is truly a blessing. Time is indeed precious when you have to manage your work and family life. Nevertheless, Sharath and the girls work with me in striking a perfect work-life balance by prudently spacing my overseas assignments. I am also blessed with a super-efficient management team at our centers who along with a diverse faculty from around the world keep the school running like clockwork, even during my absence.
I am proud to say that our centers today boast an average enrollment of over 3000-4000 students at any given time. We are instrumental in helping many people from all walks of life and of all ages rediscover their God-given gifts and realize their dreams. Dancing and teaching dance is my passion. It has even helped me overcome tragedies in my personal life, to a certain extent. Of course, entry into the world of Indian cinema has opened many a door for me in advancing Kairali Kalakendram on a global platform. A number of my friends in the Indian film fraternity including megastars, directors, writers, and choreographers have extended their unstinted support in expanding the scope of Kairali Kalakendram to include classes in acting, modeling, and etiquette. Classes in yoga and martial arts are on the anvil.
Currently, discussions are ongoing with reputed institutions worldwide for affiliations and academic partnerships to offer even better opportunities for our students. We are also speaking with local schools about integrating performing and visual arts into classrooms to support other curricula while simultaneously building students' art skills. Of course, we are affiliated with mom's 55-year old Natyalaya School of Classical Dances in India. She is my guiding light and dad my inspiration. Even today, prior to every performance, I seek their blessings. Sharath and the girls have my back at all times, lending me strength and clarity of vision in my every endeavor. "But we have promises to keep and miles to go before we sleep," as Robert Frost so wonderfully put it!
On behalf of Team Kairali Kalakendram, thank you very much for visiting our website. We certainly look forward to working with you sooner than later.
Asha Sharath (Signature)