To me, Kathak tradition is a flowing stream of knowledge. As a young girl, like everybody else, I had the misconception that the traditional ambit includes only what you learn from your own Gurus. But I realized very soon that the scope of tradition is limitless, with a lot of depth and expanse… It it is ever expanding, ever evolving… The tradition imbibes different inputs from different sources, thus grows, and gets enriched while forever flowing gloriously, graciously.
If one wants to explore tradition, there are ‘n’ numbers of possibilities like “space, stylization, music, rhythm intricacies, literary, mythological and philosophical content etc” that are demanding and intriguing.
I believe that the tradition has an inherent capacity to absorb newer principles, different philosophies and ideologies from different cultures as well.
I had the good fortune of learning from Guru Rohiniji Bhate and Tabla maestro Pt. Suresh Talwalkar. As such, the traditional values were imbibed in me ever since.
When I was ready to experiment and explore, I first started to work within the traditional arena.
I picked up some compositions- Rhythmic as well as musical from Tabla / Pukhawaj and Vocal/ Instrumental tradition which were unfamiliar to the Kathak repertoire. My task was to create a visual representation to the chosen audio designs. I got the courage to experiment with Indian musical forms like Dhrupad, Chaturang as well as different music genres later. I worked with literary content, dramatic as well as lyrical. I worked with different time cycles and different rhythm based concepts along the way. I had to abide by traditional rules, yet look for my own space for expression. It was a rewarding and challenging experience at the same time.
As a young aspiring dancer, one is concerned with acquiring more and more knowledge, technical expertise, and command over one’s own tradition. Afterwards, one is mainly occupied with teaching, imparting and sharing knowledge with young students. One tries to imbibe the inherited moral/ethical values and aesthetic principles in the people around with utmost sincerity and honesty. In naivety, one takes it for granted that if everyone works hard with integrity and diligence, things are bound to fall in place. Thus, one kept to oneself, immersed in one’s own world. But, there was a substantial gap between the dance world and common people. I soon realized that one had to make a conscious effort and actively work towards bridging this gap. As a classical dancer, I truly believe that classical dance can bring about positive change in one’s psyche, that it provides a healing touch, and a stimulus for a person to look within to become a better human being.
I then decided to connect with my fellow collogues, my young dancer friends from Pune to spread this message and awareness in the society. I decided that I needed to work with rural children, specially-abled children, school children to spread the awareness.
Another task I have decided to take upon myself is bringing the ‘best of Pune dance’ to the fore.
When my Guruji Rohiniji started to work, Pune was totally ignorant of existence of classical dance as an art medium. Fortunately, by now, Pune has become a major dance center.
I feel that Pune deserves a Kala-Sankul- A place where artists can discuss creative work and exchange views. A place that could provide spaces for different aesthetic activity related to various art forms. In short, a vibrant, cultural hub.
I aspire to broaden the horizons of the new generation dancers by expanding their vision to experiment. I envision for Indian classical dance to achieve its rightful place on the world dance scene.