Malaysia-based Odissi dancer Nritta Ganeshi Manoharan has the potential to carve out a long and illustrious path.
Fourteen-year-old Odissi dancer Nritta Ganeshi Manoharan from Malaysia who performs in Odisha at regular intervals has made it a habit to win hearts and accolades. Celebrated dancer and choreographer Chandralekha had named her as Nritta. Odissi dancer Minati Mishra and India’s best known dance critic Leela Venkataraman recommended that the nine-ye ar-old Odissi prodigy to be feature as a soloist in the 2006 Delhi International Odissi Festival.
And News Asia, the Singapore-based television channel, crowned her with the ‘Wonder Kid of Asia’ title for her incredible excellence in academics and Odissi two years ago.
Ganeshi Manoharan is a disciple of well-known Odissi exponent Durga Charan Ranbir and daughter of Bharatanatyam dancer Shangita Manoharan who is the founder-director of Kalpana Dance Theatre, based in Kuala Lumpur. Shangita was groomed by legendary Rukmini Devi Arundale at Kalakeshtra and later by Chandralekha.
“When Ganeshi was just four, she loved watching and performing Odissi. So, instead of pushing her into Bharatanatyam, I sent her to the Temple of Fine Arts in Kuala Lumpur founded by an Indian spiritual guru for training in Indian classical dance and music. I believe she is a special gift from God and sent to us to perform Odissi,” remarks her mother who comes to India each year to get the child trained in traditional Odissi dance form.
Odissi dancer Leena Mohanty discovered the prodigy during her stay in Kuala Lumpur and was instrumental in introducing her to her Guru Ranbir and the Indian dance circles. “I was working with Ramli Ibrahim when I met Nritta’s dancer-mother. We later worked together and befriended each other. When I watched Nritta perform in Kuala Lumpur, I felt she is born to dance Odissi and I presented her in the Delhi festival that we hosted,” adds Leena, Guru Ranbir’s disciple, who also trains the child. “She is a performer to watch out for and her innocence makes her even more interesting,” remarks Guru Ranbir.
How does Nritta, who is determined to be a doctor and a dancer, manage to excel in both academics and dance?
“I love dancing and I don’t watch too much of television like my friends do. That creates time for my daily practice. When you love doing something, you find time for it,” says the shy and ever smiling girl who tops her class.