Padmashri and Sangeet Natak Akademi awardee, Ranjana Gauhar is no stranger to the world of dance. Proficient in Odissi, she is also known for her expertise in several other dance forms such as Kathak, Chao and Manipuri. Multifaceted, Gauhar has also produced music and directed a number of films and dance based shows such as Saundarya Lahari — a five episode series, Odissi Chandrika — a six-episode series based on the Geeta Govinda exploring the origin, evolution and history of Odissi, to name a few. As the senior dancer gears up for the Nakshatra Dance festival, we talk to her about her relationship with dance. Excerpts:
What were your thoughts when you first started learning the art?
Dance has been my passion from the time I started becoming aware of myself. My relationship with it began with Kathak, which I learnt for about seven to eight years as a child. Then, I explored Manipuri too, but finally found my true purpose with the art of Odissi, which has opened the doors and windows of the world to me. I found my journey of self-discovery in this vast ocean of Odissi.
You have been dancing for ages now, how do you manage to reinvent an experience every time?
Every time a dancer curates a performance on stage, their true endeavour is to make it fresh and memorable. Be it with costumes, music, lights and most importantly, their inner revelation of emotions through rasas and bhavas. In fact, no two performances are the same. It’s a new one every time an artist performs.
Although they’ve originated in India, a lot of Indians don’t prefer learning classical dance forms. How do you want to bring about a change?
Even though classical dances have been encouraged and popularised by some sections of the society, I feel very sad with the realisation that most Indians prefer western arts to Indian classical ones. The change cannot be a short-term process. As classical dancers, I speak for others like me — we conduct lectures, demonstrations, workshops, seminars and discussions in schools and colleges, so that we can create a certain level of awareness amongst the youth.
Tell us about your performance at NCPA’s Nakshatra Dance Festival and the collaboration with various art forms.
I am happy and honoured to be part of the Nakshatra Festival hosted by the NCPA, where the audience is filled with not only senior exponents of dance but also well-versed connoisseurs in art and raskias. It’s every Indian artiste’s dream to perform at such a prestigious platform.
Lastly, do you have any advice for young talent out there?
One thing I would like to highlight for the younger generation is to understand and respect Indian traditions, values, our cultural heritage and take pride in being an Indian. It is a great country with a civilisation that has thousands of years of rich history.
What: Nakshatra Dance Festival
Where: Experimental Theatre, NCPA, Nariman Point
When: On September 13, at 6.30pm.
First Published: Sep 09, 2019 16:11 IST