Thursday, 19 May 2016

The Odissi Angel dancing over the 'Waves'

In the day and age when people are gradually shifting to ‘popular’ dance forms like Jazz, Salsa, Western and Hip-Hop amongst others , Shamayita Das a Transmission Executive from All India Radio, Jaipur, stands out by keeping the age old dance form of Odisha alive.
Here are a few excerpts from her conversation with Sami A. Khan:
1    From the little girl of 10 who executed her first perfect tribhang to the accomplished dancer of today who is happy doing chauk, tell us about the evolution of the dancer in you.

 A .     Dance has been the essence of my life. The reason of my very being in this world. This pursuit would have been impossible without the sacrifice of my mother, and my guru Padmashri Smt. Madhavi Mudgal’s mentorship. Apart from my keen interest in dance, it was my Guru who influenced me to the extent that dance is now a passion, dedication, love and salvation. Here I would like to quote my guru- “you should be able to enjoy your pain and only then you can be a true dancer!”

2     In the era of Bollywood fusion and remixes, tell us about the relevance of classical dance forms.

A. Since time immemorial dance has been a way of manifesting the innermost depths of the soul. It depends on what type of dance form one chooses to express their self. It can be anything – Bollywood, western, jazz, or classical.

Though the world has attained a faster pace, and this is an era of crash courses and expectations have increased manifold, yet classical dance or music still retains its charm amongst its connoisseurs. Senior dancers passed on the knowledge through Guru Shishya Parampara. It is on us how successfully we pass on the tradition of classical arts to our next generation. For this we must make good use of social media, administration and academics. Awareness in this regard has increased to an appreciable extent and nowadays we do see organisations and senior dancers conducting workshops and demonstrations for the propagation of their respective dance forms. Its relevance will never be lost as this is our country’s heritage – and this heritage cannot be tarnished by any means.

3   Why did you also insist on pursuing academics when dance already had a bright future in store?

A .    Academics is indispensable. Without knowledge art remains somewhat incomplete. For me, the understanding of basic principles underlying movement like momentum, inertia, torque, have been helpful in honing my dancing skills. It helps to understand the body and the mind better. You become a better person and a better artiste. Though I had early exposure to this glamour-laden world still I did not compromise on academics as it always supplemented my art and dance provided me the necessary impetus for rejuvenation. I owe whatever I’m today both to dance and academics. Because of academics I am financially independent, and dance has contoured my identity.

4     Was this an easy path? Tell us about your struggles, your trials and tribulations, as you tried to do what was closest to your heart? 

A. Well, this goes without saying that nothing comes without a price. As a child of then, I used to travel 56 kms, thrice a week from Faridabad to I.T.O. to learn dance. I was not only pursuing my favourite art form, but my Guru was a strong motivator. Needless to say that the never ending saga of exams and performances kept me on my heels throughout. When others were playing or relaxing, I was already enroute to a practice session. There had been testing times, but unceasing dedication to my art form, devotion for my Guru, support of my parents, and faith in myself kept me moving. I have often heard parents say that it is difficult to pursue your passion whole-heartedly along with academics, but in Tagore’s words I would like to say that, “no knowledge in this life is unlearnt, and nothing goes waste who has the desire to fight.” 

Catch Shamayita Das’s mesmerizing performance
Today (19th May,2016) at India International Centre, New Delhi at 5 pm. 

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