At the age of two, what started as a regular visit to dancer Shovana Narayan’s Kathak classes, soon developed into a passion for Kartika Singh. “I was accompanying my elder sister initially. But as years passed by, I decided to stay put and learn under Shovana didi,” recalls 28-year-old Singh. It was her mother’s wish to make the girls learn under the tutelage of the renowned maestro that kindled it, remembers Singh. “Once my mother had seen didi perform in Bihar. Despite certain nasty comments from someone from the audience, didi kept performing undeterred. My mother was impressed by her sheer determination and lack of focus. That was the moment, she decided to put us sisters under Shovana didi,” describes the artiste. Once Singh started attending classes, she observed Narayan’s “unique” portrayal of each character that drew her closer to Narayan.

“Shovana didi’s love for Kathak is always so visible on her face. She lives, breathes, eats and sleeps the dance form, and her character portrayals are so realistic and unique. They are always straight from the heart. That is an exceptional quality,” Singh mentions. Now knowing her for more than two decades, she along with her fellow counterparts, Shruti Gupta Chandra, Supriya Sathe, and Mrinalini, felt that the dancer needs to be paid a tribute for her sheer love and commitment to the dance. That is how, they decided to come up with the ongoing tribute ‘Lalit Arpan – Continuing Guru Shishya Tradition’. “I think guru is way more special to me than dance. All of us have had a mother-daughter relationship with her and we wanted to convey it to her in a grand way,” says Singh who will be portraying the anguish of Draupadi, which is one of Narayan’s favourite pieces from her repertoire.

Crediting Narayan for being an inspiration to balance both her careers —of a dancer and a filmmaker — Singh says, “Didi combines her career of classical dance with her demanding profession as a senior civil servant. She is excellent at both of them. Her discipline is something I am in awe of. It probably has been a strong inspiration in my life.”

Catch Kartika Singh perform at ‘Lalit Arpan – Continuing Guru Shishya Tradition’ at India International Centre, on October 12 at 6.30 pm.