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Paramita Bhattacharyya - Bridging The Eastern-Western World Gap With 'Kathak Story Telling Art'

An internationally acclaimed Kathak exponent with multiple awards from India, USA, and London, Paramita Bhattacharyya is based in Los Angeles, USA. Paramita Bhattacharyya is passionate about bringing the Indian Classical Dance Form' Kathak - Storytelling Art' to the world stage.

Paramita Bhattacharyya, Kathak Exponent
Paramita Bhattacharyya, Kathak Exponent

For Paramita's contribution to community engagement and social responsibility-oriented work, the World Book of Records Organization has conferred her with a certificate of appreciation for social contribution.

An internationally acclaimed Kathak exponent with multiple awards from India, USA, and London, Paramita Bhattacharyya is based in Los Angeles, USA.
Paramita Bhattacharyya is passionate about bringing the Indian Classical Dance Form' Kathak - Storytelling Art' to the world stage. Paramita is actively working on the mission to create a new paradigm for 'Story Telling Kathak Art' and bridging the gap between the Eastern and Western worlds. A member of NDEO - National Dance Education Organization, she is the first Indian Kathak dance exponent from Los Angeles to hold the position of an award committee member in this organization in the USA.

She has been honoured by the Orissa Government with the 'Nritya Bhushan' award in 2021 for her work in promoting Indian dance in the USA. Recently, in Los Angeles, USA, Paramita represented Indian art and culture through her Kathak dance performance in the 75th year of India's Independence, Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav.

Having moved to the USA, Paramita has taken it upon herself to introduce classical Kathak in an interesting Story Telling Art Form to the locals and let them taste the rich heritage of India. She received the certificate of commitment from the 'World Book of Records, London, in 2021 for continuing the Indian art Kathak even through the pandemic time through online opportunities, motivating young learners by demonstrating Kathak, and proving her commitment to the art form.

Spreading the art
She has performed at many festivals in that country and got platforms to showcase her art. Paramita attributes her personal style of dance to her Gurus, from whom she learnt the art. "It has been quite challenging to make the non-Indians aware of the style of classical dancing". When I first shifted to the USA, it was a challenge to spread Indian art because these areas have very little exposure to Indian culture, where there is a thriving Indian community. I was culturally shocked, but the dancer inside me didn't let me take any pause. From here started my journey of spreading the art instead of suppressing my artistic desires. I started reaching out to county recreational departments, libraries, parks, local ballet and tap dancing studios, colleges, and schools, in Los Angeles and insisted them on holding free workshops, no-fee dance classes, lecture demonstrations and exchange programmes," Informed Paramita Bhattacharyya. As a reward, Paramita earned the 'Savyasachi Educator award from the Indian Dance Research organization in 2020.

Music Transcends Boundaries
"Initially, an issue I faced was the choice of music and style of the costume. My audience majorly consists of the non-Indian USA community. They are not very fond of gaudy dress-ups in theatre and performing arts unless there is a good reason for it. They want glitz and glamour in a balanced manner. So, I chose the mono-coloured praise dresses and fused them with traditional dupattas and simple ornaments… It was a constant experiment to look modern yet authentic," adds Paramita.

Another issue was the music. "They do not understand our mythology, and using Radha Krishna songs, Meera bhajans are welcome, but they are unable to decipher the context of the movements and the story behind them. So, I chose Indian classical world music, such as Lasya by Anoushka Shankar, Niraj Chag's Kanya, Fur Elise, and Rhythmscape, to name a few. My idea was that music transcends boundaries and connects hearts. So why use lyrics? Let the music guide the soul and nurture the mind. This idea worked wonders. They loved the fast-paced Indian music with powerful Kathak recitals and started to derive pleasure from each performance."
Also, says Paramita, due to the melting pot of cultures and being a member of the Dance Council of UNESCO, Paris, she gets to meet dancers from all kinds of styles from around the world who are ready to share their art on a much larger scale and platform. "This exchange also helps in shaping and nurturing each other's aesthetics and dancing patterns, giving it a global feel."
 
When it comes to Los Angeles, Paramita feels Indian art is restricted to big cities. Indian consulates should give more opportunities to young performers alongside veteran ones for a wider appeal.

The use of Bollywood interchangeably with Indian classical arts is another area of concern for the artists.

She says there is not enough literature present for circulation and the wider scope of Indian dance styles to blend with its western contemporaries.

Government support is required
"A lot of work is required at the government's end to popularise our Indian art forms at par with western classical styles like ballet."

And Paramita gives all credit to platforms such as YouTube, Instagram feeds, Facebook videos, Vimeo and movie software etc., for the fact that Indian classical arts are thriving, and people are now "way more aware about Indian classical arts than in the past".

Establishing a strong place for Kathak on the World stage
Paramita is trying to strengthen the Kathak Art Form on a global stage and find an equal place for Kathak, Indian classical dance, on the same stage alongside all other Western classical Dance forms like Tap and Ballet, which are classical dance forms from another part of the world.

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