She was only
one of over 6,000 artistes who stole the thunder at the
Commonwealth Games inaugural. But young Kuchipudi dancer Chitkala
Balan will cherish the day for ever.
The 20-year-old graduate from Delhi's Hindu College has been
inundated by congratulatory phone calls after taking part in the
gala extravaganza that has won lavish praise all around the world.
"I am really proud I was part of it," Chitkala told IANS, her
voice still betraying her excitement. "What I saw on Sunday was
"I really felt very special at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium," said
Chitkala who has been a student of Raja and Radha Reddy for eight
years, and echoed the views of her peers.
"When we were on stage, there were cameras flashing from
everywhere. I was on the same stage where A.R. Rahman sang. It was
a big, big thing for me."
She quickly added: "It is also a proud moment for India."
For full three hours, more than 6,000 artistes of all age groups
put up a spectacular show of Indian art, culture, music and
history that ended with the foot-tapping Games theme song sung by
As the curtains fell on the opening ceremony, the wild cheering
and standing ovation from those packing the stadium was proof that
the colourful, glitch-free show had won millions of hearts around
Chitkala was one of 80 Kuchipudi dancers who formed part of the
"Tree of Knowledge" segment towards the fag end of the three-hour
Giving Chitkala and her friends company were 80 dancers each from
five other dance forms of India: Bharatanatyam, Odissi, Manipuri,
Mohiniattam and Kathak.
All the dancers, she said, began training for the Commonwealth
opener in August at the Army Parade Ground here.
"In the beginning, we trained three to four times a week, three to
four hours each time. As the ceremony drew close, we danced for
seven to eight hours each day. We shifted to the stadium only a
"It was a nice journey... I got to meet many young dancers. It was
a great experience."
Chitkala says although the dancers and other artistes worked very
hard, the credit for Sunday's success should go equally to the
"We were not the only people they were dealing with. There were
also people who could not read or write. For them, it was so
difficult because everyone had to read numbers on the ground to
know our positions."
Chitkala is unhappy with the Indian media.
"The media has been complaining we were not getting food or water.
That was wrong. When we practised, we got bottled water and enough
"The media has been so negative. They are also forcing people to
think negative when so many good things are happening all around
us. When the big day came, I totally forgot whatever the media was
Like most artistes, Chitkala reached home well past midnight
Sunday, tired but happy. But Monday was like any other day.
"No, I coudn't sleep or take rest. I had to go to classes. I am
also studying to be a chartered accountant. My tests are in
November. I cannot afford to miss my classes."