"It was more than 20 yeas ago I visited Mysore first for learning Bharatanatyam from Guru Uma Rao. I still remember clearly your appearance when you came to pick me up at that time. It is one of the biggest and luckiest event for meeting you in my life. I am very happy to be able to learn from you the great Guru. I wish you to keep good health and to keep giving your gifted art for us for a long time" - Kyoko Nobi, Tokyo Japan
"A student experiences, understands, enjoys, appreciates and learns art only thru the Teacher. I am grateful to my Guru Smt. Uma Rao for helping me in each and every dimension in learning Bharathanatyam. Her sessions were so in-depth and she would train us in dancing, singing, narrating, choreography, nattuvagam and all other aspects to be a complete dancer. I have enjoyed each and every moment I have spent dancing and they are the most memorable. Its not just dance that I have learnt from her, its beyond that. Quality consciousness, Completing the task, Dedication, Communication skills, Personality development, Values in life and many other aspects which helped me to be a better person in every other field. I am really thankful to her for accepting me as her Student. You will always be my favourite teacher Uma Mam" - Anitha Ramarao, Bangalore
It was way back in 2009 when I was leaving Mysore in search of livelihood along with my little daughter and my wife I visited my Guru … I sought blessings from my Guru … and today only thing I remember are those great moments…. My Guru said … "Knowledge is Power and use it with all humility to serve the future generations". I am so very thankful to the knowledge, love which I received during my stay at SLA from one and all from the Academy. I cherish every moment I have lived with her. Uma Miss just not taught me dance but helped me to mold values of my life. She chiseled my life from a naïve passionate dancer to an inspired learner. Today thousands of miles apart, there is not a single day I do not remember my Guru and her lessons. Her teachings are pivotal in every compositions we try to create and we dedicate every effort to her. It is said that … we have to be truly blessed to be an artist in this life … and I can only say that "I am not just blessed but … abundantly blessed with the best Guru for my life to make me understand what life is through this divine art." - Chetan K Hebbar, USA
Now I begin to understand greatness and deepness of the Ocean of Bharathanatyam. The most attractive quality of this mystic Ocean is an unimaginable sweetness. Have been able to taste his sweetness only due to mercy of Guru and Guru Parampara! And now I can appreciate the real fortune of my life – my education in Sri Lalithakala Academy under the guidance of Great Guru Ms. Uma Rao. How much patience and sympathy she gave me during the classes - to devote me at the real sweetness of Bharatanatyam – at the Spirit of the Greatest Rukmini Devi Arundale! Even my students from long-run and cold Siberia inspired to comprehend the splendor of Bharathanatyam. So my dear Guru Ms. Uma Rao please accept my humble obeisance! All my students from the Theater of Indian Classical dance “Parampara” bow down to your feet. – Muza, Siberia (Russia)
"My Guru Uma Rao entered my life at a crucial phase of my life. I still miss our long but blissful hours of toil, all too eager to get the korvais, jathis, sollukattu or abhinaya right. It was never easy to get a pat on the back from ma'am, the perfectionist taskmaster! HER approval through the nattuvangam was enough to make us beam with pride. She taught me the value of discipline and the dignity an artiste has to carry at all times. I see the greatest guru in her till date, as I don't need to go back to my theory books to recall a single lesson be it the shlokas, the postures, gestures, the taalas or adavus. Blessed to be her disciple. Tattvamasi! " - Prathima, Mysore
I started learning bharatanatyam at the age of 12 under the able guidance of my beloved guru Karnataka Kalashree UmaRao. To begin with, 'Discpline' was the foremost thing there. We have learnt innumerable things there. She used to make each and every class interesting even for the beginners. These unforgettable experiences are etched in our memory for ever. Many a times we were even asked to create new adavus which enriched our creativity too ! She would make us understand every nuance of that particular item ' Nritta' or ' Abhinaya'. It was only after understanding these aspects she would teach us the item. That was the depth of knowledge she gave us. Time was never a barrier. We used to have classes for hours together. We had all the freedom to stop and ask for clarifications. She was always open for discussions too.
Performances were another most exciting ones. We performed the folk dances , dance - dramas and bharatanatyam recitals The experience and the time I have spent there is unforgettable , very touching, enlightening and enriching one . I consider myself very fortunate to have been associated with her for so long and seek her blessings. – Nandini Belur Satyan, Bangalore
"The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires" (by William Arthur Ward) - Uma Akka exemplifies the above quote. - Shangita Manoharan, Malaysia
Uma Akka exemplifies the above quote. It is said that a student does not choose his or her teacher. They are chosen by divinity according to each students’ skill and requirement. Very few artistes give from their heart, especially when they are still performing. Uma Akka was my teacher at the height of her performing career as a ‘Prima Ballerina’ of Kalakshetra during the reign of Smt. Rukmini Devi Arundale herself. A brilliant mind and an extraordinary performer who performed and taught only from her heart. A teacher who never looked at her watch while teaching, who gave her ‘everything’ to the students she taught. I was extremely lucky and blessed to not just have Uma Akka as a teacher only, but also as an elder sister, a friend and a mentor. From the detailed nuances in Abhinaya, to the little performing tricks, to getting my eyebrows done for the first time, to teaching me dance make-up, to all the stolen boiled eggs… it goes on. I owe my final year performance and my execution of ‘Dharijuchu’ which received great appreciation, only to Uma Akka. She pulled through my unforgettable nightmare of contracting conjunctivitis on the day of my performance. Another memory I will always cherish was her presence and support during my premiere performance in Sri Lanka after my graduation from Kalakshetra. Our friendship and affection for each other has grown, matured and strengthened over the years till this very day. She taught me to follow my heart as she did. A woman of great strength, artistry and immense affection, Uma Akka is an irreplaceable part of my life. – Shangita Manoharan, Malaysia
It was a warm evening. I walk in hesitantly with my mom into the classroom. I watch the other students practice the thodi varnam (roopamu joochi). Everybody is sweating a lot… but still have a glow on their face. The class is over. She gives them feedback. Once done, after introducing she asks me to show her something that I have learnt. I show her some adavus. She asks me some questions on mudras which I fail to answer. She then patiently explains to me the meaning of some of the mudras and the meaning of the step I just performed – where it is usually used etc., I fell in love with her then. Uma miss has influenced me in more ways than one. Her perfectionism, her attention to detail, her values... never ceases to amaze me. One of the best experiences of my life was to perform in the Kalakshetra auditorium. Uma miss had always told us about the place, but to actually go there – practice in those classes where once our guru practiced, sit in a place where once Atthai sat… was an unbelievable experience!
She opened a new world in front of me. A world of dance, abhinaya, nritya natakas.... a wonderful world. Even today she continues to inspire me in many walks of my life. I can still remember each and everything she has taught me. That was her power and influence on me. A true Guru. I have always felt a connection with her. Not only w.r.t Dance, but with life in general. She taught us life lessons through dance. Be it the Sita in Ramayana or the Rukmini in Rukmini Kalyana, they all had something to say to us. We grew up as dancers, we grew up as individuals. The connection was so strong that I could never connect with anyone else the same way. Never could go to another Guru for continuing dance in a different city. Bharathanatyam and Uma miss is synonymous for me. I revere dance and I revere her! I love dance and I love her. – Mekhala Govinda, Bangalore