Memories of an Odissi-dancer-to-watch from the International Dance Festival at Bengaluru

By Soumee De

Early on a chilly January morning, when I landed from sunny Singapore at the Bengaluru airport, I was both anxious and excited to be represent Singapore at the International Dance festival, hosted by World Dance Alliance Asia Pacific, Karnataka chapter at the prestigious Seva Sadan at Malleswaram. The three-day festival in January 2010 featured dancers from India, USA, Malaysia and Singapore presenting Bharatnatyam, Odissi and Kuchipudi. I had the honour of sharing the stage with Navia Natarajan from USA on January 10th evening session. 

What touched me was the warmth of the organisers who inspirational performers (Mrs Veena Murthy Vijay, Mrs Anuradha Vikranth, Mrs Sharmila(di) Mukerjee) and their respect, care, thoughtfulness towards each performer. From the warm welcome at the entrance of Seva Sadan premises, to personal introductions to the hall-packed audience, from introducing us to the media critics to managing the logistics seamlessly – lights, video and photography. The seasoned professional artistes and Gurus who curate and select the dancers from around the globe, also take care that the experience of both the performer and the Rasika happen to be authentically delightful. While the trip was full of emotional highs, I learnt insightful lessons about the life of a performing artiste during this momentous trip. 

The next morning, I woke up to this surprise review comment by the musician-art critic, Mysore V Subramanya in the Deccan Herald!

“Soumee De Girotra, who gave a Odissi dance recital in the World Dance Alliance, is from Singapore. Young and enthusiastic Soumee De has practiced Kathak, Ravindranrithya and Music, apart from Odissi. She opened her recital with Mangalacharan, customarily, followed by Thrikandi Pranam. She performed the pallavi gracefully with the lilting nritta. With all the physical graces needed for dance she presented the astapadi of Jayadeva neatly. Her ‘Dashawathara’ was also attractive. Soumee De is undoubtedly an Odissi dancer to watch.”

Little did I know that in a few months I will discover the joy of motherhood. This memorable dance travel diary marked my last trip overseas to perform. A decade later, with two adorable sons, I feel nostalgic remembering the highs-lows of traveling with dance-only luggage. On an optimistic note, I feel fortunate that we have opportunities to perform and teach our classical art forms here at Singapore.

Below are two links to the of reviews posted about the dance performances in detail. Hope you will enjoy this walk down the memory lane, as much as I did writing about it!

1. Deccan Herald review

2. Narthaki review

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