SINGAPORE - After a day of seeing patients at her clinic, Dr Roshni Pillay goes home, trades her stethoscope for a pair of anklets and dances in her private dance room till about 11pm. But not without two cups of coffee, she revealed to tabla!.
"Dance has been a big part of my life," said the Singapore Indian Fine Arts Society (SIFAS) alumnus, who is trained in the bharatanatyam dance form and has been dancing for close to 40 years.
She started learning bharatanatyam at SIFAS when she was just six years old under the guidance of several teachers there.
"My parents sent me for the classes. I loved to dance but, as a child, I remember having these tantrums and telling my mother I didn't want to go for the class. But my mother would stare at me and get me to go. I'm definitely grateful that she did that," said Dr Pillay.
Now a mother, she added: "These days parents don't force their children as much as before." She has three children - a son, 25, and two daughters, 23 and 18. "My older daughter is still into dance but the younger one gave up quite young and I didn't want to force her," she said.
Despite her tantrums as a child, Dr Pillay's love for the art form grew and she went on to learn from Cultural Medallion recipient Neila Sathyalingam and started performing as a soloist in the 1990s. However, she had other interests then as well. She followed her father's footsteps and went into medicine. And during her years in medical school at the National University of Singapore and her formative years as a doctor, she did not reveal her artistic side to her patients and colleagues. She also kept mum about her medical profession to her dance teachers and fellow dancers.
"Back then, people would not take you seriously as a doctor if you're a dancer and if you're a doctor they won't take you seriously as a dancer," explained Dr Pillay who now runs her five-year-old practice at Riverside Clinic and practises family as well as aesthetic medicine.
"So I sort of led a double life. But I didn't see it as a bad thing. Today when I look back, I'm glad I didn't choose dance as my sole career," she added.