Asmita Das, student of Shree Narayani Natyalaya and Guru Santhosh Kumar Thamang, who performed her Arangetram at Shilpakala Vedika in April last, speaking exclusively to Natyahasini reveals that she is keen to continue learning dance parallelly to academics. “Irrespective of how busy you are, I think as an artist if you wholeheartedly love the art or if you truly have a passion for the art, you will definitely find the time to do it. Nothing can stop you from doing what you love, your passion and determination is enough to drive you to doing what you truly want to do. So, basically no matter how caught up I might get with academics, I will always be associated with my passion that is dance,” she says.
A Class XII student of Maharishi Vidya Mandir, pursuing BiPC, Asmita discloses that words are certainly not enough to describe her feelings of her arangetram. “I was not really that nervous because I knew that (Guru Santhosh Kumar) mama trained me so well to the point where I was ready to go solo on stage. I simply trusted my mama and everything went on very smoothly. I was completely immersed into my dance while performing and very connected with the wonderful music ensemble and without me even realizing it, my arangetram was successfully done,” she says. The Bharatanatyam dancer says that it was a perfect, magical evening and one of the greatest and most memorable stepping stone of her life, and it has a sweet corner in her heart. “With the completion of my arangetram, I have just started my dance journey and I am truly excited to embark on this new journey of dance,” says the young debutant.
Hard Work Behind Arangetram: Speaking about her preparation for arangetram, Asmita states that a lot of hard work and dedication went into it. “I am a Class 12 student, needless to say there is a lot of study pressure, but I think it is the passion towards the art that drove me to strive for perfection in my arangetram. Hard work, not only mine but my parents and my guru, of course. Nothing is possible without hard work, and nothing is impossible when you work hard. Mama always says, hard work is the only way to success, there is no shortcut and it is indeed very true. My arangetram rehearsals were very hard, especially in this hot and sultry summer but it was all absolutely worth it,” she says.
Asmita, who started her dance journey at the age of seven years under Purva Dhanashree, came under the tutelage of Guru Santhosh sir at the age of 12 years. She describes mama as a ‘perfect guru’. “Not only does he teach the beautiful nuances of Bharatnatyam movements, he also makes sure that the student understands why he/she is showing a so and so abhinaya. He ensures that students dance because they love to and not because of the pressure of some external person,” she says. The dancer after her arangetram now realises why her mama was strict. “I realise and understand the value of that strictness, he wants the student to be perfect and magnificent on stage. I have truly done something great in my previous birth to deserve a guru like my Santhosh mama,” she says proudly.
Dance Initiation: The dancer confesses that her mother Anamika wanted to learn dance as a child, but for some reasons, it did not happen so she wanted her to become a dancer. “My parents put me into Bharatnatyam classes when I was seven years old. At this young age, I did not have the inclination to learn or there wasn’t interest from my side but little did I know that dance would influence me to such an extent and would become a major part of my life on growing up,” she says.
Asmita says her passion and immense love for Bharatnatyam motivates and drives her to seek perfection in each step that she does. “I am always intrigued and fascinated by the precision and perfect, intricate movements in Bharatnatyam, it is so crisp and clear and looks so divine. If not Bharatnatyam, I would probably learn Kathak, with the tapping of the feet and subtle hand movements, it is a gorgeous artform yet looks so effortless. Having said that, I think it’s safe to say that Bharatnatyam was meant for me and it all worked out according to God’s plan for me,” says the young artiste.
Favourite Compositions: The Shree Narayani Natyalaya student says that there are many compositions that she absolutely loves losing herself to. However, she reveals that she has a soft corner for ‘Saraswathi Shabdham’ in Ragamalika and Mishrachapu talam, composed by Venkata Subramanyam and ‘Kaalai Thooki’ in Yadukula Kamboji ragam and Adi talam, composed by Marimutthu Pillai. “I completely surrender and forget myself in these compositions, I find a different beauty and intimate divinity, that I can really lose myself to,” she says.
Asmita says that performing in a group definitely has a different feeling to that of performing solo. “While in solo, I think one needs to be more focused especially if there is live orchestra since all the eyes are only and only on that one dancer, but every dancer needs to experience a solo performance because it really takes one’s dance to a different level,” she says. The dancer says that on the other hand, it is so enthralling to perform in a group. “The energy is just so upbeat and nothing can bring that energy down. I love the sound of all our bells matching the beats of the Mrudangam, everybody is completely immersed and enjoying the composition. Even though we might be completely drenched in sweat and exhausted, the support from the dance mates just keeps the energy high and we continue dancing with even more spirit and energy than ever,” reveals the Class XII student.
A Certified Praveshika Pratham and Praveshika Poornam for practicals and theory in Bharatnatyam, and Graduation Certificate after her Arangetram, Asmita states she is truly blessed to be associated with this divine art. “I am grateful to my guru, Santhosh mama, my parents, Dr. Dipankar and Anamika and my brother, Arvin who have groomed me into this young person who is well associated with an art like that of Bharatnatyam,” says the dancer, before taking leave.