Editor’s Note

Photo Courtesy: Debiprasad Sahoo

Photo Courtesy: Debiprasad Sahoo

 

Welcome to our third issue of Global Rasika, an online initiative launched earlier this year to foster critical thinking and discourse across the Global Odissi Community.

This issue, “The Road Less Traveled,” examines the career path for those that have decided to pursue dance/Odissi dance as a profession. The path of any professional dancer is not an easy one, even the most successful of artists will attest to having had their fair share of struggles and uncertainties along the way. While professional classical dancers remain a miniscule proportion of society, the number of people taking up dance as a career (or quasi-career) has grown exponentially. In the process, by and large, the scope of options for the dance professional has expanded, and the interface between dancers and society has transformed substantially.

These changes have largely followed the natural currents, and betray the look of an untended garden of wildflowers. The current and most pressing need is not only to widen the horizon of the dancer, but also to establish stronger institutional interventions to support professional dancers. Odissi is further alienated because of its increasingly one-dimensional existence, thus facing a legitimate threat of failing its future generations of dancers by overlooking the scope of available opportunities.

In this issue, our contributors examine the various facets of pursuing classical dance as a profession: The financial difficulties of aspiring dance artists, turning one’s passion into a profession, the effectiveness of planning one’s career, and finally, one’s personal journey to follow her dream. We are thrilled to have had the opportunity to chat with renowned Guru Sri Ratikant Mohapatra, who shared with us from his own experiences.

We would like to extend our deepest gratitude to our contributors for this issue: Manishikha Baul, Ranjana Dave, Rathimalar Govindarajoo, and Srijat Mishra – Thank you for so generously and honestly sharing with us your own insights and personal experiences. Special thanks to Debiprasad Sahoo for providing the images for this issue.

It is our hope that our Global Odissi community will begin to think seriously about these issues and explore ways to improve the current system. Whether you are a student, arts-lover, writer, Guru, scholar, performer, or critic, please consider your role and responsibility for the greater good of Odissi. Only as a collective body can we create a robust ecosystem to support the efforts of dance professionals.

This issue is dedicated to all dancers that have chosen to bravely walk this path with great courage and sacrifice.

 

Sonali Mishra
Editor, Global Rasika
Bhubaneswar, Odisha
November, 2014.

Guru Sri Ratikant Mohapatra: Finding Your Path, and Finding the Pearl

Photo Credit: Arabinda Mahapatra

Photo Credit: Arabinda Mahapatra

Guru Sri Ratikant Mohapatra, the only son of Odissi legend Guru Sri Kelucharan Mohapatra and Smt. Laxmipriya Mohapatra, has carved a niche for himself as one of Odissi’s leading Gurus, choreographers, percussionists, and organizers. He is currently the director of Srjan [Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra Nrityabasa] in Bhubaneswar, and continues to travel throughout the world to impart training in Odissi. He is the key advisor to San Francisco-based Guru Shradda, and has lent his knowledge and expertise to dance practitioners throughout the world. Some of his awards include: “Pride of India 2004,” “Sanjukta Panigrahi Samman 2005,” and “Nrutya Bhushan,” by the International Dance & Theatre Festival 2005. In 2006, he choreographed and directed an Odissi presentation at Kalinga Stadium featuring 550 Odissi dancers from around the world, which was entered in the Guinness Book of World Records. Today he shares with Global Rasika his life experiences with Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra, finding his own path as an artist, and the current trends in Odissi. [Read more…]

Dancing to Nowhere: Young, Beautiful, and Broke?

by Ranjana Dave
[Originally Published in The Asian Age (http://archive.asianage.com) – May 2011]

dancer-full-flute

Photo Courtesy: Debiprasad Sahoo

Some young classical dancers might be forgiven for thinking that an arangetram or debut marks the end of their dance careers. An arangetram only heralds the start of a long, and sometimes, futile struggle to be known.

People often talk of dance as spiritual, and argue that dancers must treat their art as “sacred” and not trivialize it by bringing money into the equation. If, one sunny morning, they are told that they must work without expecting returns, for the spiritual good of society, can they be expected to respond with similar equanimity? [Read more…]

From Performer to Performeur….Creativity with Prosperity

by Srijat Mishra

Photo Courtesy: Global Rasika

Photo Courtesy: Global Rasika

 

A classical dancer, or for that matter any classical performing artist’s life, is generally is fraught with economic uncertainties. This will remain until the public at large doesn’t pay to watch classical performances. In our fast-food world of instant gratification, spiritually uplifting classical performances are far behind the pecking order. This trend is inevitable; despite the classical performer lending strength to a critical dimension of the society – i.e. aesthetics – India, in large sections, remains in survival mode or hygiene living. Food, housing, education and health continue to monopolize the household budget. Entertainment also has its small share of the wallet, but it is largely limited to Bollywood, Cricket (or other sports) & reality shows, with TV serving as the primary medium. [Read more…]

Finding My Destiny in Dance

by Manishikha Baul

Photo Courtesy: Debiprasad Sahoo

Photo Courtesy: Debiprasad Sahoo

 

Life is the dancer and you are the dance” – Eckhart Tolle. I am Manishikha, an Odissi dancer and a global nomad.

Growing up: Born and brought up in India (Delhi and Kolkata) my journey as a dancer began at the age of eight under Shrimati Sutapa Talukdar. My mother, a lecturer in Russian language & member of Nichiren’s philosophy of Buddhism, walked me into Sutapa Di’s class on a pouring evening in Kolkata. Being associated with Gorky Sadan (Russian Institute), my childhood was flooded with opportunities to perform. My younger sister also started learning Bharatanatyam & Hindustani classical music. In the lantern-lit evenings we would recite bols and shlokas for the other while one practiced. My interest in arts, I would like to believe, is an inheritance from my father, an architect and an impressionist artist. He was also my worst critic. I lost him in my early twenties. As most stories of middle class families go, various circumstances and the need to earn a living took me far away from my path of dance when I was in high school. I went on to study English Literature before joining GE Healthcare services where I met my husband. An Urdu poet, animal lover, photographer and an engineer, he has been my biggest motivator. [Read more…]

From Passion to Profession: Advice for Aspiring Dancers

By Rathimalar Govindarajoo

Rathimalar Govindarajoo with Divya Nayar in Panjara. Photo Courtesy: Nithya Kuthiah

Dance is an inherent part of any culture. Classical, folk, and modern/contemporary are three main forms prevalent today. In Malaysia, we are seeing a growing interest in dance, with an increasing number of young students seriously pursuing their craft. At some point, these dancers may find themselves at a crossroad: Passion or Profession? Should they choose a stable, secure profession for the sake of security, or should they follow their dreams, risking their lives in the process, to pursue an inner passion that could easily turn into a pipe dream? Moreover, what defines success for a dancer, especially in Malaysia where the performing arts are still not a priority? Is it popularity and achievements through the number of VIP performances? Or is it simply the promotion of Malaysia’s culture to the world? This question remains unanswered even today. Speaking from personal experience, single-minded dedication is required to take up dance as a career. Nowadays, there are many options for individuals interested in pursuing dance professionally: performance, teaching, choreographing, and writing are some of the many avenues available. Dance is a rare choice, but for those who have the perseverance, it can be a very satisfying and fulfilling decision. [Read more…]

The Road Less Travelled: Contributors November 2014

Manishikha Baul is based in Singapore and co-heads “Ethos: Exploring the Odissi Spirit”. She is a professional Odissi dancer. She graduated from the University of Delhi in English Literature and has a diploma in Commercial Art. Manishikha works mostly out of Singapore and Delhi. She enjoys reading, cooking and travelling. She can be reached at manishikha.baul@gmail.com

Ranjana Dave is an Odissi dancer and dance writer based in Bombay, India. She is the co-founder and programme director of Dance Dialogues, a platform for the dance community to collaborate, reflect and explore ideas that inform their creative practice in multi-disciplinary ways. She recently initiated Varnan, a social media consultancy which helps artists and arts organisations develop effective communication strategies. Ranjana regularly writes on dance for prominent Indian publications, including Time Out Magazine, the NCPA On Stage Magazine,The Hindu and Asian Age. She has worked on the online archive project Pad.ma, where she focused on curating an archive of the performing arts. Ranjana holds a postgraduate degree from the School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, where her focus was performance studies. In 2013, she was a recipient of the Arthink South Asia Fellowship, a programme aimed at nurturing potential leaders in the cultural sector in South Asia. To learn more about Ranjana and the work she is doing, please visit: [www.varnan.net, www.dancedialogues.org,http://artswriting.wordpress.com]. She can be reached at ranjana.dave@gmail.com

Rathimalar Govindarajoo (Rathi) specializes in Indian Classical Odissi, Bharata Natyam and Modern Contemporary dance. She spent her formative years with Sutra Dance Theatre for over two decades and worked full-time as one of the pioneer dancers of Shobana Jeyasingh Dance Company (SJDC) London, UK. Rathimalar received Marie Claire’s Women of Style & Substance Award (2011) and was named Watson’s Extraordinary Woman in 2013. An established choreographer; she was nominated for best choreography at the 2009 BOH Cameronian Arts Award. She continues to contribute her extensive dance experience towards the performing arts in Malaysia and abroad. You can find out more about Rathimalar by visiting: https://twitter.com/rathimalar; https://vimeo.com/rathimalar; https://www.facebook.com/Rathimalar.Dance.Odyssey?fref=ts.] Rathimalar can be reached at dance_odyssey@gmail.com

Srijat Mishra is an entrepreneur in the knowledge industry, specifically the education sector. His dream is to use technology and innovative education models to transform education and learning in society at large, and in the process, touch millions of lives – especially in emerging and developing countries. Srijat is also an enthusiastic mentor for young organizations and fellow entrepreneurs. He advises many organizations that are at the cusp of technology and organizational/social change and regularly speaks, in different forums, on entrepreneurship and governance. Srijat is an alumni of Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta (Kolkota). He blogs on various topics at: www.unmuddlings.blogspot.com. Srijat can be reached at srijat@gmail.com

Debiprasad Sahoo is budding photographer based in Bhubaneswar with a passion for Odissi dance. He is also a web application developer and entrepreneur by profession. His photography page can also be found Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DebiprasadSahooPhotography. He can be reached at debiprasad.s@gmail.com