Why did you choose to be an Odissi dancer?
I’m from Orissa, so it was natural. It is part of my culture.
How do you approach spirituality and philosophy in your dance?
As Indians, we are surrounded by symbols of spirituality. However, these symbols and objects do not just have religious connotations. For example, Krishna is a symbol of meditation, not just an idol. I wanted to express philosophy through my production, hence yoga and dance.
You have had the blessing of three of the greatest Odissi gurus.
It’s a bit of destiny and my own choosing. From each guru I received a very different dimension.
How did you decide to collaborate with other dance forms?
It gets repetitive to be doing the same repertoire, and I felt I must do something different.
What are the difficulties of being a dancer?
Kickbacks and the other favours that are expected. Art is very beautiful, divine and pristine, but reality is not so. I wish it can be purified.
You received the Sanatan Nritya Puraskar in 2007 for your outstanding contribution to Indian arts.
Money, awards, fame—all act as motivators. You can’t always act from the goodness of your heart; I’m not a saint.
If not a dancer....
A model, an actress, or a yoga teacher.
The festival talks about dance being therapeutic. How?
Dance combines music, rhythm and movement, and soothes nerves, improves concentration, helps in anger management, increases memory, improves peer relationships, is a stress-buster.
What would you advice young artists?
Live right, eat right and choose your art form wisely.
My spiritual guru, Satyananda Saraswati.
By Leela Murali and Arushi Bedi