Interviews

Modern dance lacks the gracefulness of classical dance: Joshita Nayak

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Joshita Nayak, a class 7 student of Apeejay School, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi, made her school proud be securing first position in the Royal Gridlock Classical Dance Competition, an inter-school contest organised by Seek Foundation in association with VKAN-V. In a candid interview, Joshita talks about her fascination with Odissi and why she dances every day before going to bed.

Tell us about yourself?
I was born in Odisha and studied there till class 2. My father is a government employee (Rural Electrification Corporation) and when he got transferred to Delhi we shifted along with him. I was enrolled in Apeejay in class 3. Since then, I have had an amazing journey. Initially, I experienced a great culture shock in Delhi. I struggled to communicate in both English and Hindi. I faced problems pronouncing words correctly and I also used to get confused between gender pronouns in Hindi. Thankfully, the teachers have stuck with me through thick and thin. They worked painstakingly to correct my pronunciation and enhance my knowledge base. It’s due to their efforts that now I get regularly selected to deliver speeches and host competitions. I was the Head Girl in class 5. I also actively participate in various co-curricular activities offered by the school.  My world has turned 180 degrees.

Which classical dance form are you learning?
I am learning Odissi, a dance form from the state of Odisha. It is recognised as one of the eight classical dance forms of India. I started dancing at a young age. Though, I tried every dance form, including western, but I didn’t get the satisfaction. My elder sister, Jyotirleena Nayak, used to take Odissi dance classes. I was fascinated with her costumes, jewellery and make-up. I found my true calling in Odissi when I shifted to Delhi and started learning the dance form from my Guru, Anita Rout, an Odissi dance teacher. I would also like to thank my school dance teacher, Priyanka Datta, who has taught me various tricks on how to hold a pose for a longer duration.

What fascinates you about Odissi?
Apart from the costumes and jewellery, I am fascinated with the classical dance pose, Chauka, which literally means square. It represents Lord Jagannath Krishna in Odiya folklore as he brings stability to the universe. In this stance the weight of the body is distributed equally on both sides. In Odissi, the women dancers wear a brightly coloured silk sari and blouse called the kanchula. When a dancer is in Chauka pose, the saree creates a beautiful floral design. I also get floored by the graceful body movements and impeccable facial expressions of Odissi dancers. They look so refined. I also practice modern dance, but it lacks the gracefulness of classical dance.

Does dance practice come in the way of your studies?
I have an organised schedule for both academics and Odissi. After school hours, I complete my homework and study for the next day. At the end of the day, before going to bed, I dance for around 20 minutes to relax my body and soothe my nerves. It’s a great stress-buster.

“Whenever Joshita is tense, she takes a small break and dances. This helps her to relieve stress. During the pandemic, when everyone is cocooned in their homes, dance is the best form of exercise. I am also thankful to the teachers of Apeejay for constantly encouraging my daughter.”

Jayashree Nayak, mother of Joshita

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]

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