Kala Runs In Veins Of Kalamandalam Swarnadeepa

Born with Classical Legacy, Kalamandalam Swarnadeepa made her foray into dance with Rabindra Nritya at the age of three, but learnt all classical dances – Kuchipudi, Bharatanatyam, Kathak, and Mohiniyattam, and decided to pursue Mohiniyattam, only after she connected with Guru T. Shankaranarayanan. Speaking exclusively to Natyahasini, Mohiniyattam dancer, Kalamandalam Swarnadeepa says, she hails from a long lineage of performing arts, so getting drawn to dance was only natural to her. “I was initiated into dance at the age of three, starting with Rabindra Nritya. Coming from Bengal, which is one of the major cultural hubs of India, it was not unusual. Gradually, I explored classical forms like Bharatanatyam and Kathak, before finally being enticed by Mohiniyattam, which led me to Kerala Kalamandalam, where I also learnt Kuchipudi. But I have always been open to new things, and haven’t shied away from forms like semi-classical,” she says. 

Swarnadeepa shares that she learnt Kathak under Guru Manisha Bhattacharya, Bharatanatyam under Guru Kalamandalam T Shankara Narayanan (Principal, Sangeet Bhavan, Viswa Bharati, Shantiniketan) and Mohiniyattam under Guru Kalamandalam Pushpalata. In 2004 – 2007, Swarnadeepa learnt Kuchipudi under Guru Kalamandalam Rajalakshmi and from 2002 – 2006, she pursued a Diploma in Kuchipudi and Mohiniyattam from Kerala Kalamandalam Deemed University, under Gurus Kalamandalam Padmini, Kalamandalam Leelamma, Kalamandalam Hymavathi, Kalamandalam Pushpalata, Kalamandalam Rajalakshmi.

My First Guru: “The immense value the guidance of a guru brings to your craft simply cannot be replaced. The insights of my gurus have polished my skill over the years, and I feel most honoured to have been under the care of such brilliant dancers. And of course, my first Guru was my mother, Guru Itusree Mahanta, who opened the doors of Performing Arts for me by training me in Drama and Recitation,” the Mohiniyattam dancer says.

Swarnadeepa shares that she has performed at diverse stages, including from small temples to international platforms, it is hard to pick one city. “Because dancing itself has given me a sense of fulfilment, the city hasn’t mattered as much as the joy of performing. Every stage makes you a better dancer, and in that sense, each one of my performances has played a role in making me the dancer I am today, so I cherish all the same,” she says.

Beautiful Experience: The Mohiniyattam dancer, who was in the City of Pearls recently, admits that her visit to the city left her with beautiful experience. “The city is always changing, so it is always a new experience. I caught up with so many of my old friends, and shared a platform with some talented dancers. It also brought back some memories from when I was staying there as a young and upcoming student of classical dance,” she says. Swarnadeepa, however, adds that the Kandula Kuchipudi Natyalayam and Shilparamam World Dance Event itself was significant and much needed. “The sheer diversity of performances on that stage, raised awareness in a busy metropolitan where people often have limited time for cultural sensitivities. I am confident that the vibrant performances of the night have inspired so many to pursue dance or may have motivated some others to rekindle their old love for dance,” says the artiste. 

She quickly mentions, “It was also delightful to watch some young talent there, which makes me glad that there are still so many out there, willing to carry forward the cultural lineage of our country.” Swarnadeepa, who has been performing across the globe and country, for nearly two-decades, has taken her art to passionate people with passion and apart from entertaining the audiences, the Mohiniyattam dancer has conducted workshops to. From 2008-2010, she has performed in Berlin, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Leonberg, Koln, Sweden. In Russia, in 2017, Bharat Utsav, Doha, Qatar in 2019, and Uday Shankar Dance Festival Kolkata 2009, 2011, 2014, 2016, 2017 & 2021, For Tourism Festivals in Kolkata, Hyderabad & Kerala, Festival De Danza, Bengaluru, organised by All India Artist Association, in 2023, among many others.

Advice To Youngsters: Swarnadeepa asks youngsters to pursue dance more than just a passion. “It is a discipline in itself that needs to be nurtured with time and effort. Whether you pursue it full time or as a hobby, remember to strive for perfection. The effort made to pursue dance in a holistic sense will always help you, because knowledge never goes in vain,” she states. Also, the Mohiniyattam dancer says, “The cultural awareness, physical fitness and mental health benefits that dance offers is unparalleled. Strive for perfection, and you will excel in all walks of life.”

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