It’s never too late to dance or dream

Mothers with grown-up children and full-time careers, six women friends decided to train in Odissi and presented their debut performance recently in Mumbai

Updated - May 21, 2024 04:59 pm IST

Published - May 21, 2024 12:43 pm IST

‘Anuttama’, an inspiration for women to follow their dream

‘Anuttama’, an inspiration for women to follow their dream

‘You dance love, and you dance joy, and you dance dreams’ - Gene Kelly

Myself and my five friends demonstrated this when we came together to perform our Manchpravesh recently at Mumbai’s St. Andrew’s auditorium. In Odissi dance tradition, a Manchpravesh, is akin to a graduation ceremony.

Titled ‘Anuttama’ (means unsurpassed), this Manchpravesh was unique. It is usually performed early in life, after learning a full repertoire and seeking the guru’s blessings for the first formal public appearance. But we made our debut past out prime. Apart from most of us being mothers to teenage children and young adults, we have a full-time professional career. Despite our diverse backgrounds, what Arpita Sur (preschool CEO), Mangal Walkar, Pradnya Sinha, Sangeeta Jadhav, Urvashi Makharia and myself have in common is our love for dance. We also belong to the same Odissi institute, Smitalay in Mumbai and have been trained by Jhelum Paranjape and Ankur Ballal.

We devised various ways to practice. We would post our daily practice routine on our WhatsApp group to encourage each other. Mangal, a healthcare technician at a leading hospital, felt although she was a backbencher, our gurus helped shed her inhibitions. Sangeeta was overwhelmed by the beauty of dance. Pradnya, director of a creative company, credits dada and tai (our gurus) for inspiring us to make this dream come true. Urvashi agrees.

‘Anuttama’ began with Mangalacharan, the sloka ‘Padavande’, in praise of Ganesha. It moved to a pallavi in raag Saveri, which was high on sringara rasa. This was followed by Brajaku, a Gitabhinaya written in Odia, depicting a playful interaction between Yashoda and baby Krishna. The performance moved again to pure dance, before we presented ‘Batu Nritya’, an important part of the Odissi repetoire. The piece, choreographed by the inimitable Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra, was recreated by Ankur Ballal in a unique way. Just as a sculptor turns stones into beautiful statues, a guru shapes the disciples into graceful dancers. Ankur Ballal, enacting the sculptor, turned us, the six dancers, lying as stone chunks into statues playing various instruments in the Konark temple.

After tandava and abhinaya pieces, we showcased two unique pallavis by guru Jhelum Paranjape. The event concluded with ‘Moksha’ highlighting the liberation of the soul. Movement and stillness defined this piece. Musicians, Jateen Kumar Sahu, Rohan Dahale, Aparna Deodhar and Shree Niranjan Sinha heightened the appeal. The purpose of writing this piece is to share with other women that it is never too late to dream and the timeless beauty of our dance.

The writer is CEO, NYACONS, a management consulting startup.

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