“I have to live if I want to be remembered.” ― Suzanne Young
And live she did! Smt. Neila Sathyalingam, an alumnus of Kalakshetra Chennai had an eventful life filled with highs and lows while in Sri Lanka before eventually moving to Singapore. An accomplished dancer, choreographer and teacher, it was no surprise that Singapore celebrated her.
Known affectionately as Neila mami, she was a friend, philosopher and guide to many who crossed her path. Often teachers have the ability to transform our lives and help guide us through tough times. That’s when they become Gurus. How does one deal with such a monumental loss? One can’t. Memories often make it devilishly difficult as everyday routines remind us of wonderful souls that have moved on. For artists, their Gurus are usually good friends, confidantes and advisers. It is true of any medium where knowledge is shared and passed on. While I might not have known Neila mami very well personally, a brief interaction often hints at the underlying warmth.
I will not presume to speak of her more intimately than her closest circle of students who have benefited greatly by just being around her nor will I ever be able to comprehend the loss they feel now. Each student will feel the deep connection personally that none other can fathom. And it shall remain so.
She contributed to the Singapore art scene like no other. She faced hardships as she brought art to new lands. She has trained a dynamic group that understands her vision. What more can one ask for? Perhaps many more years with her…..
Say not in grief that she is no more
but say in thankfulness that she was
A death is not the extinguishing of a light,
but the putting out of the lamp
because the dawn has come.