Sattriya dancer, Dr. Joyeeta Talukdar, speaking to Natyahasini demands more recognition to the dance art form Sattriya. “Although being one of the ancient dance forms, Sattriya is yet to be explored in the world. People from other dance forms must take interest in this form and help it to get more appreciation,” she says.
Hailing from Doom Dooma in Assam, Dr. Joyeeta Talukdar was introduced to Sattriya by her first guru Mrs. Dipti Gohain, who runs the Dipti Nrityalaya. Sharing her fascination for Sattriya, Joyeeta says that she likes the Uras and Mati Akhoras (the exercises) that help to liberalise the body. “Further, the Borgeets sung in the praise of Lord Krishna and the various aspects of his life have been so beautifully written and described that I found the only option to learn them was through dance. I like bhaunas (the expressions), the Sutradhar dialogues and many more… Basically the richness in the dance which has an amalgamation of Nritya, Nritta and Natya inspired me to learn this art form,” says Joyeeta.
The Cancer Biologist, who is pursuing her Post Doctoral Fellow from AIIMS, Delhi, says that Sattriya is mostly about Krishna and his leelas. “There’s a part of dance which we are made to learn in the fourth and fifth year of Sattriya, i.e., Devadasi Nritya. I have always been drawn to that dance form. While going back to the traces of Devadasi Nritya, I found that the bhangas of this dance somewhere are similar to Odissi Nritya and even the spontaneity of spirituality of the dance form matched with Sufism where you dedicate yourself to the Almighty,” she says. Shedding light on using Sufism in Sattariya, Joyeeta says it’s just a beautiful concept, where everything, your rasa, your sringara, your every expression is for the Almighty. “That started me to draw more to learn about Odissi and Sufism. I am still in the learning process of these two dance forms, but somewhere I found that the spirituality that lies in all the dance forms is the same, Dedicating Oneself to Almighty,” says Joyeeta.
The Sattriya dancer says that the present audience wants a quick form of understanding. “The credit for tuning Sattriya for present audience goes to my pioneer Gurus, Shree Ramkrishna Talukdar and Mrs. Rumi Talukdar, who were able to bring a new flavour in this dance form by conceptualizing long dance ragas into short and beautiful choreographed story forms so that the audience isn’t withdrawn from the main concept of the stories.” She acknowledges that learning helped her to choreograph a couple of the dances where she was able to make people understand the importance of touches, the concept of breast cancer (early symptoms), the mental health depressive and anxiety, and how to overcome these states through her choreographies.
Joyeeta shares that specially challenged children visiting Dipti Nrityalaya were sent back because they couldn’t admit them. “But, one time we took a risk and started training these special kids. All of a sudden, their parents noticed that this interaction had made many positive changes in these children. As such more students were admitted and now, we have a personalised protocol to train these students with our dance forms which have to a very extent helped them to be confident and get a new perspective in their lives,” says the dancer.
The Cancer Biologist says that similarly, Cancer patients introduced to the dance form or other art forms, their stress has decreased and they are able to forget their pain at least for couple of hours, and that couple of hours of the day, they are able to re-learn positivism and get the confidence to take a leap of faith towards their coming future. “We don’t promise that we shall be able to cure them with our activities but at least our small recognition and boost would help them gain confidence to fight the worst with more positivity and who knows they might come out as winners in their battles. We have seen a couple of cases and hope to be able to help more in our near future,” says Dr. Joyeeta Talukdar.
Explaining about her job, Dr. Joyeeta says that it is a research-oriented Job. “But I am also involved in several other works, like tele-consultation of Cancer Patients, Physiological Counselling of Palliative Care Patients along with their families. During Covid-19, we were in constant work with Covid patients providing them tele-consultations, phycological counselling etc,” she says. The Post Doctoral Fellow adds that she loves this translational research where she is able to build the bridge between research and the common people by directly reaching out to them, and decreasing the gap between Scientists, Doctors and Patients. “We intend to bring a new era where there shouldn’t be a gap between the people working with Science and common people. There needs to be an impact where every common man should understand the language of Science which our ancestors were so much capable of,” says the Sattriya dancer.
Dr. Joyeeta Talukdar, who was recently on Parichay platform of Muvva Nritya Raaga Nigamam, thanks dance critic Shyamahari Chakra kaka, Dr. Hima Bindu akka and their research team and other beautiful souls for giving her an opportunity to showcase Sattriya to the Hyderabadi audience. “Last but not the least, I thank my Maa, my Baba and my elder brother for their immense support to carry on with my research and experimentation with both my dance and work,” she says.
The Cancer Biologist says that dance has always been a recreation for her and she feels she can dance anywhere and at any time. “It’s a stress buster for me. I never thought that I needed an orthodox rule to practice my dance, it’s just like a daily routine to me, and hence it’s a part and parcel of my life. So, there are no specific special requirements or arrangements that I need to practice my dance daily. That helps me manage both my career and dance peacefully,” says Dr. Joyeeta Talukdar, before signing off.