For Rishikesh, Hyderabad Holds Great Memories

The Nagpur-based Bharatanatyam dancer Rishikesh P Pohankar, who recently was in Hyderabad, as part of the World Dance Festival organised by Kandula Kuchipudi Natyalayam and Kuchipudi Guru Ravi Kuchipudi at Shilparamam Madhapur, in association with Shilparamam Arts & Crafts Society, says: “It was really, really, great experience to perform at the Nritya Sammelanam 2024 at Shilparamam. I felt blessed to being a part of this festival.” Speaking exclusively to Natyahasini, Rishikesh admits that he has many, many good memories from the Hyderabad show. “I have met many great artists, shared the stage with the great artists and it’s such a great honour for me. It’s life-long memories for me,” the Nagpur-based dancer says.

Going down memory-lane, Rishikesh shares that he started learning dance when he was 11 or 12 years old. “I wasn’t aware about this classical dance, Bharatanatyam, but from my childhood I loved listening to classical musical instruments and watching classical dances. Those days, there used to be only Black and White TV and every Thursday night on DD National, one classical dance program was telecast. I watched that program without fail every Thursday night, which kindled my interest in classical dances and one Sunday morning, I saw on TV (Bharat Culture Integration program) where Padma Bhushan Prof. C. V Chandrashekar Sir’s performance left me mesmerized and was the turning point in my life to start learning dance and thus my journey as a student of Bharatnatyam began.

On His Gurus: Speaking affectionately about his gurus, Rishikesh, says that his first Gurus was Nagpur dance couple – Kishor & Dr. Kishoree Hampiholi. “I trained under them for many years and they introduced me to the beauty of the classical dance form. Later, I met senior Guru Ma Nrityaratna Ratnam J Nair, under whom I started my advanced dance training learnt the nitty-gritty of the technique, abhinaya and all aspects of Bharatnatyam,” he says. The Bharatanatyam dancer says learning the art form under Guru Ma was amazing, and she is like a second mother to him. 

The Nagpur-based dancer got great opportunity to attend workshops and learn under many great internationally renowned dancers, gurus like…. Kalaimamani Guru Shobhana Bhalchandran Ji, P Unnikrishnan Sir, Shrijeet Krishna Sir, Manju V Nair Ma’am and many more…. “It was really    a great experience to learn many things from great dancing fraternity in the country.” Rishikesh has been learning Bharatanatyam for the last 19 years and is also pursuing a Degree in Bharatanatyam under Gandharva Mahavidyalaya Mandal, Mumbai.

He is Nritya Visharad & Nritya Alankar in Bharatanatyam under Gandharva Mahavidyalaya, Mandal (Mumbai) and the most senior student of Pratibha Nritya Mandir, Nagpur. He has done his research in Indian Folk Dance under the able renowned folk-dance gurus like Guru Smt. Indumati Tai Lele, Guru Shri Sadanad Rane, Guru Smt Shakuntala Pawar, Guru Shri Ganesh Chandanshive and Guru Shri Tridip Kakoty.

Beautiful Experience: Rishikesh has the fortune of performing solo, duet and in groups across the length and breadth of the country. “I have performed in all states and major cities in India and with my guruji and Pratibha Nritya Mandir troupe. My beautiful experience of performing is in Thanjavur, during Maha Shivaratri. “We performed in Natyanjali International Dance Festival at Brahadishwara Temple, Thanjavur, that was the best and very divine experience for me,” he confesses. 

The dancer has choreographed many dance ballets like – Meghamalhar, Durgeshwar, Shri Krishna, Shiva Parvathi Kalyanam, Colours of India, Avgha Rang Ek Zala, and solo ballets – Mohana & Mokshaa. He is also a working as a Bharatanatyam Guest lecturer in some Fine Arts Institutions & Colleges in Assam & Sikkim state. He has been bestowed with many awards and some of them are – Nritya Kaumudi, Nupoornayaka Sanman, Nritya Kala Mani, Pt. Gopikrishnan, Nritya Shiromani, Bramhaputra Sanman, Meera Sanman, Nritya Yuva Kalaratna, Saptaranga Kala Ratna and many more.

The dancer asks the youngsters to learn Indian classical art forms, be it dance, music, painting, instruments or sculpture as it is essential to preserve our Indian heritage culture. “Learn it with dedication, have faith in your guru, it is most important to being a good human and artist too, don’t run behind quick learnings because every art has a very beautiful journey, enjoy that process. Grow with the art and promote our art to all in this universe,” Rishikesh says.

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