Sathya Sai Dance Academy’s transgender students are fighting prejudice and gaining dignity and purpose.
Who are they? A group of five dancers, mostly in their late 30s begin by learning the Alarippu, the first lesson. Among the group is Tamil Nadu’s first transgender auto driver. Another is a physiotherapist at a public hospital who began the journey when Kerala-based Sri Sathya Sai Orphanage Trust and Chennai-based Sahodaran Foundation offered free Bharatanatyam classes.
- They get together every Sunday for their classes with their master Shanmuga Sundaram, a well-known Chennai-based Bharatanatyam teacher.
- For some of them, other teachers refused to teach them because of their identities. But Master Sundaram, according to them, is a hard taskmaster.
What’s next: For these particular students, they feel the true change will come when they can become teachers and pass on their knowledge to students from different backgrounds. They even joke about having a dance-off with the Kerala school.