Sonal Mansingh, who performs both Odissi and Bharatanatyam, talks about some interesting juxtaposition of similarities and differences in the styles.
What do you think of dancers learning and performing more than one style of dance… (in the context of Divya Kasturi who is now performing Bharatanatyam and Kathak and in the case of Sailaja who is performing and teaching both Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi)?
I cannot comment on others but I can tell you my story. I learnt Bharatanatyam from the age of seven and had my arangetram in 1961. I started learning Odissi only in 1965. Bharatanatyam and Odissi to me are like two sister-styles. There is an interesting juxtaposition of similarities and differences in the styles. Even Rukmini Devi, after watching my Odissi performance, the first of its kind in Chennai, in 1967 said, “Odissi is as classical as Bharatanatyam if not more. It is like the sculptures coming alive!” Both dance styles are related to the temple sculptures, like the sculptures that one can see in Kumbakonam and Thanjavur, and hence have similar roots. In such a case, if one has the opportunity to learn from great gurus and do tremendous ‘sadhana' (practice) then it can work. In Delhi I performed a ‘Dwi Varna'
piece in which I juxtaposed Bharatanatyam and Odissi. The then President R. Venkatraman was in the audience and was so impressed I was awarded the Padma Bhushan.