Namrata Pamnani feels that Kathak can be used as a tool for social change.

She is a face in the crowd of young Kathak dancers and has shown signs of immense promise. Rightly rooted to the tradition but always open to innovations, her art is an ideal example of a tradition in transition. An artiste of confidence, conviction and creativity, she is New Delhi-based Namrata Pamnani who believes that dance could be an effective tool for social change. And her recent performance in Bhubaneswar gave glimpses of her talent and promising future besides her capability to communicate with the commoners through the language of dance.

Kaun Hnu Mein (Who am I?) that Namrata choreographed and performed was an attempt to assess the identity of a woman in the contemporary society. Using the story-telling style that Kathak is all about, the artiste proved how classical dance can neatly delineate and communicate a contemporary concept. The young dancer-choreographer's other productions — Om-Allah using the ancient Dhrupad music and Wazd-in trance set to the poetry of the Sufi saints — speak volumes of her vision as a creative choreographer and an artiste engaged in strengthening the secular fabric of the nation.

Young Namrata is already a globe-trotter dancer as part of the troupes and compositions of famed Kathak exponents like Nalini-Kamalini duo, Kumudini Lakhia, Prerna Shrimali, Geetanjali Lal, Rani Khanam, Rajendra Gangani, Malti Shyam and Pandit Jai Kishan Maharaj. As a soloist, she has also been invited to perform in India and abroad on a number of occasions. “I have always tried to expand my exposure to different styles of dance in order to enrich my thought, attitude and art,” says the dancer who has also collaborated in concerts with contemporary artistes like Santosh Nair and Merlin D'Souza who is a member of Shubha Mudgal's fusion music band.

“Transcending beyond Indian classical arts, I have been learning a lot constantly that is enriching my sensibility,” acknowledges Namrata who worked with the drummers of Korea to understand their rhythmic patterns. She also delved into choreography for the stage with veterans like M.S. Sathyu.

Commencing her dance career at the tender age of nine, Namrata, who belongs to the graceful Lucknow gharana, has never looked back during the past 14 years of her struggle to be a professional dancer. “My goal is set. I have just embarked upon the journey,” she confides.