I have been living in India since 2008, training intensely in Mayurbhanj Chhau, in Delhi and occasionally in the Mayurbhanj district. I am the current senior disciple of Guru Janmejoy Saibabu, intending to bring more exposure to this rich and beautiful art form and promote its growth so that the tradition can live on firmly rooted, yet open to evolution and refinement.
I won’t tell you the long story about how I came into dance or moreover how I landed in India, but it is necessary to mention that I began training in 2000 and completed a course in Tai Chi Chuan, yang style and explored other disciplines such as Aikido, Kung Fu, Capoeira, Belly dance, Mexican Aztec Dance, and Colombian swordsplay. I owe lots of gratitude to people like Omar Granados, Diana Fernandez, Kena Acosta… My first Gurus.
In 2008 I was granted the ICCR scholarship to come and learn Odissi in Delhi under Priyambada Pattnaik and also since I decided to take up Chhau Dance under Guruji. Seeing that it was a dance form involving martial elements, I could not resist, I have always had a platonic love for martial arts. It was the perfect combination of the energies that dwell in me, the feminine and the masculine.
It has been a blessing to experience the commitment, dedication and strong tie that has developed with Chhau dance and my guru. As his current senior disciple, knowing how valuable this art is, I feel a deep responsibility to be a link between tradition and the contemporary world, between what has been taught in Mayurbhanj repeteadly for decades and the development of the art that my Guru has to offer; to represent a male-oriented tradition and an art form that can be approached by daring women who are not just content by carrying out the light and feminine roles in the dances. I want to be one of the boys in the Panchasakha (a martial art piece about “the five friends”), I want to play Arjun in Geeta (epic piece about the Mahabharat war where Krishna isntructs Arjun to kill for the sake of Dharma), I want to be Krishna in Tamudia Krushna (the classic romantic encounter between Radha and Krishna). More ambitiously, I don’t want to be a foreigner that looks like she is doing chhau, or attempting it, my dream is to have my body move as the young boys in Mayurbhanj do, but better yet, with the refinement and polishing that Guruji’s style brings forth.
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