Singapore-based Kshirja Govind and Delhi-based Pritam Das exchange notes on dance and the many beautiful things that are a part of its world.
From her home in Singapore and taking time off from a workshop in Bhilwara, Rajasthan as part of SPIC MACAY in West Bengal, Kshirja Govind and Pritam Das, respectively logged onto Zoom to share their stories as young dancers. The conversation began with the dancers discussing the need to be aware of the body as an instrument, the care needed to keep it injury-free and the imperativeness to create awareness on the same. Kshirja noted that the awareness with regard to training and nutrition on social media helped her work on her body in terms of its alignment, posture, etc.
Naturally, the topic of conversation segued into social media. Both the dancers admitted that the internet had indeed made the world flat and helped in networking amongst the community and and has undeniably brought dancers together, especially during the pandemic.
They discussed the possibilities for dance in the current context and Pritam pointed out that youngsters today are indeed getting a lot of opportunities, thanks to social media and the exposure it has provided. Speaking of the scenario in Singapore and the future of dance there, Kshirja acknopwledged the role of the government and how it not only provides aid in terms of funding, but also arranges many programs and encourages dancers. “There are also programs where children in schools (in Singapore) are exposed to varied cultures and dance forms,” she added.
Needless to say, with great power and opportunities comes great responsibility. The two dancers discussed the need for young dancers to have a moral responsibility to try and bring in more viewership to this art form. “One of the main objectives of dancers,” Pritam said, “should be to give back to society in every way possible.” Currently on a tour across rural schools in India under the umbrella of SPIC MACAY, Pritam said this movement aims to take arts to every child of this country. “Meeting these kids, and interacting with them is making them aware of our art forms and seeing the joy it brings to them, is all a very humbling experience.”
While the need to perform in traditional performing spaces is crucial, Pritam reflected that experiences like these, to perform in unconventional spaces is also equally rewarding.
Unconventional spaces also create more opportunities in the form of workshops, lec-dems, seminars which helps to spread awareness among the people and also helps the dancers to grow with their work. Talking of growth, the two dancers discussed the idea of feedback and criticism. Kshirja agreed on receiving criticism both positive and negative, as few things on dance are subjective while some are purely objective. “I believe that different people’s perspectives are needed to improve one’s own dance,” she said.
Pritam insisted on getting feedback from the audience apart from gurus and teachers, as this widens one’s horizons. He also mentioned instances where people have walked up and given him feedback, genuinely like parents do. “I also believe that peers and colleagues can also help each other in one’s growth,” he added.
Another interesting discussion was on the topic of collaboration in practicing spaces like Adavu jamming. Both dancers were clearly excited about the idea. Initiatives like these help each other and open up one’s perspectives. Kshirja talked about her collaborative work in performing spaces, but said she had not participated in sessions like these and would love to.
One thing is clear; both Kshirja and Pritam are looking forward to opportunities to connect with fellow dancers, in understanding each other’s views, perspectives, sharing their passion, energy and learnings from dance with each other.
The conversation finally ended with both the young dancers wondering how this art form would be in a few decades from now! In a good, safe space, hopefully!
Kshirja Govind is a Singapore-based dancer and has been learning Bharatanatyam in the Kalakshetra style for over 12 years now. She is learning under Guru P. N. Vikas at Singapore Indian Fine Arts Society (SIFAS). She was awarded the Best Student and ‘Natyavisharad” on completion of her Dance Diploma at SIFAS in 2018. She is also learning at the Upadhye School of Dance and is a company dancer with Apsaras Arts.
A regular performer in Singapore for various productions, Kala Vaibhavam, SIFAS festivals, temples, etc, Kshirja also extensively performs abroad in India (Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore) and around Asia. Her recent performances include solo Bharatanatyam performances at Sri Krishna Gana Sabha for this year’s Ilamayil Thirumai Series and at RK Swami Auditorium as part of Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha’s Margazhi Season. She has received many accolades including the Best Performer at Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha (119th Year-Dance Festival) in Feb 2019, Prize Winner at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2018, Singapore and the Future Face title at the India International Dance Festival in Bhubaneswar, 2017.
Through her collaboration with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, she has become the first Indian Classical Dancer to receive the honour of working with the SSO. She has been a part of a collaborative performance of Bharatanatyam and Chinese Hokkien Opera at the Chulalongkorn Asian Heritage Forum, Thailand.
Pritam Das defines passion for dance through his immense dedication and effortless grace as a Bharatanatyam dancer. Having undergone his initial training under Smt. Jayita Ghosh and Sri Samrat Dutta, he is now under the advanced tutelage of Sangeet Natak Akademi awardee Smt. Rama Vaidyanathan. Pritam has performed both solo and group works as part of his teacher’s ensemble in several prestigious festivals including Spirit of Youth and HCL Concert Series by Music Academy, Uday Shankar Dance Festival, NCPA Mumbai’s Mudra Festival, Dhauli Kalinga Festival, Gudi Sambaraluu, Ustad Alauddin Khan Samaroh, Shivaargya Dance Festival and many more. He is an ‘A’ grade artist of the Doordarshan, an empanelled artist in Spic Macay, and was also awarded the National Scholarship from the Ministry of Culture, Govt. of India for the field of Bharatanatyam in 2015-16. He is the recipient of Gutty Vasu Memorial Prize from The Music Academy, Madras for being the Best Dancer in the 30th Spirit of Youth Music and Dance Festival. Undoubtedly recognized as a formidable talent in the field, Pritam is determined to scale greater heights and create meaningful art through his lifelong commitment to dance.