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Folk dance connects us to our cultural roots: Eshana Pahwa



Eshana Pahwa, a class 5 student of Apeejay School, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi, brought laurels to her school by winning first position in the Royal Gridlock folk dance contest, an inter-school competition organised by Seek Foundation in association with VKAN-V. In a freewheeling chat, Eshana decodes the appeal of folk dance and the importance of balancing academics and extracurricular activities.

Tell us about yourself?   
I studied for two years in Kolkata followed by a year in Mumbai, before enrolling in Apeejay in class 3. I learned Kathak for some years, but now I am concentrating on Santhal dance, one of the best tribal folk dances of the country which is known for its vibrancy and cheerfulness. I am also learning Hindustani classical music. I’ve been dancing ever since I was a little girl. For the Royal Gridlock folk dance contest, I took the help of my cousin Chhanda Bani Dutta. She is my inspiration along with my mother and teachers.

Why do you find folk dance appealing?
Folk dance connects us to our cultural roots. For me it’s important to learn the classical dances of India, reflecting our rich heritage and cultural diversity before learning foreign dance forms. We have to know our roots to know ourselves. I also love the costumes in Indian folk dances which are colourful with all-embracing jewels and designs. Folk dance is also an effective way of storytelling. For example, the word Kathak comes from the word katha which means story. Kathak has always been closely associated with Lord Krishna’s legends. Folk dance is an exciting mix of costumes, storytelling and music.

What are the benefits of dancing?
Dancing is the best form of exercise that’s actually fun and it helps in expressing our feelings. It also bolsters mental health and makes you more graceful. Lastly, it promotes discipline as improving your dance skills requires persistence and focus. I treat dance as a hobby to express my feelings. As of now, I have not given a thought of making a career out of it.

What is more important, academics or dance?
Both are equally important and both offer different benefits. I don’t give more attention to academics at the expense of dance or vice versa.

Was there an instance when you forgot your dance moves on the stage?
No, the reason being, I just try to be myself on stage and enjoy the whole process and when you enjoy something thoroughly things flow naturally. Still, I do feel nervous before my performance, which is natural.

Eshana always gets encouragement from the school and specifically from her dance teacher, Anindita Sengupta. Due to online classes, I have seen the efforts put in by the teachers. Whatever students do, they get full backing from their teachers.

Sreeparna Pahwa, mother of Eshana

Dheeraj Sharma is Asst. Editor (Newsroom). He covers events, webinars, conducts interviews and brings you exciting news snippets. He has over 10 years' of experience in prominent media organizations. He takes pleasure in the small things in life and believes a healthy work-life balance is key to happiness. You can reach him at [email protected]