Importance of Mahari Award
This award is definitely special to me. Any award for that matter gives you satisfaction that you have done something special. Artistes like me should be thankful that our dedication to the art form gets recognised.
Shaping up as a dancer
I was interested in Odissi dance since my childhood. When in school, I used to cry if not allowed to dance at functions. Seeing my interest, my mother decided to let me pursue dance. I started learning Odissi at the age of 12, when my parents enrolled me at the Utkal Sangeet Samaj in Cuttack in 1983. I learnt the steps from Guru Raghunath Dutta and post college, I got into Guru Kelu Charan Mohapatra Odissi Research Centre to learn the nuances from the maestro himself and Guru Laxmidhar Jena. I have also been fortunate to learn at the centre under Kumkum Mohanty. My artistry has also been finetuned by Guru Gangadhar Pradhan to some extent.
There have been many. In Odisha, I have performed in almost all festivals except the Kharavela festival. There have been other significant festivals like International Odissi Festival, Soorya Festival, Natyajali Festival among others. I cannot choose any one of my performances as the best because all are special to me and I keep learning all the way. I have always loved performing with my husband Manoranjan, who is also a noted Odissi dancer and teacher.
Appreciation vs Criticism
A dancer is a performer and every performer has to accept appreciation and criticism in the right spirit. I have got both and have believed that criticism helps me grow as an artiste.
Academics & the arts
I have to admit I was an average student all through academically. I devoted more time to dance. But my father wanted me to at least finish my graduation before taking up Odissi professionally. Therefore, immediately after my graduation from Emarti Women’s College, Cuttack, I joined ORC. I am thankful that my parents allowed me to pursue my dream.