Subrata Tripathy

Subrata Tripathy is a professional Odissi Dancer, currently based out of Delhi. She has trained extensively under Gurus for years to achieve whatever she is today. She teaches independently, and perform this beautiful, spiritual dance form in India as well as abroad, and have been a part of many prestigious dance festivals.

How unique is your journey as an Odissi artist compared to other Odissi artists?
Everyone has a unique story to tell, when it comes to life’s journey. I too have a very unique and special journey when it comes to my dance life. I belong to Odisha, and I started learning Odissi at a tender age of 8, under late guru Shri Kanduri Charan Behera, from Odissi Dance Academy. It was a part of my life from childhood to adulthood- but more like a hobby- till I left my hometown to pursue further higher studies in Delhi. It was a demanding course and all my energy and time got consumed in pursuing a career. This took me away from my dance and music. Life took another turn as I got married and became a young mother soon. In Fact, I had to very frequently change locations inside India to travel with my husband’s job transfers. With this demand of time and situation, I decided to pay full attention to my kid & home. I craved the missing part in my heart - always wanted to catch up with Odissi again, but time was such then -without Internet etc. and southern India postings- all of which led me to try another dance form -Bharatnatyam- which I learnt for 2 years. It made me feel connected to dance again. I was happy in a way but that craving that something is missing was still there; because I did not feel connected to that dance form from the soul. Then life took another turn totally unexpectedly. In Mumbai I met Smt Daksha Mashruwala ji, who is a very senior disciple of Guru Shri Kelucharan Mahapatra. I walked into her class without knowing anything about her, full of apprehensions not knowing where my path is taking me. It was the best decision of my life to have taken the path and took me in with an open arm, and I never looked back since then. I started training under her, with zero ambition but just for the love of dance. I didn't realize 15 years had passed since I had left dancing. I had to re-do everything I had learnt and within a short span of time I even started teaching under her guidance.She guided (means pushed me) to learn and makeup for the lost years. Since I started dancing Odissi again, that void in my heart vanished. It’s a second chance in life God gave me. I consider myself lucky to be able to pursue what I love the most. And I thank god and my gurus for being the guiding light to my journey which made me Today a professional independent Odissi dancer. Yes, it is very much possible that after marriage one’s career does take a backseat. It can happen to any career but especially classical dance, since it is a physically, emotionally and mentally demanding field- so it becomes all the more difficult to pursue once you have a family to look after. But in my case, I feel it’s me who did not have that spiritual calling when I was younger. I myself was not sure what my soul needs to feel complete. By god's grace I have a supportive family who understood my journey and supported me wholeheartedly when I started dancing again.

Why did you choose Odissi dance, do you have any interest in other dances?
I was born in Odisha, so Odissi came naturally to me. But later I also realized that apart from the beauty of the dance form, its connection with lord Jagannath and the melodious Odissi classical music which is used in the dance, is what connected me to the dance form to a deeper level. Apart from Odissi, I feel Mohiniattam from Kerala is similar to Odissi in many ways and I connect to it too. Also, I like Latin American dance forms like the Salsa.

Who is your inspiration for this or who is your role model and why?
Behind my learning of Odissi dance, the one who initiated is my mother; but then later in life my gurus inspired me a lot to keep on going on the path.

When did you start Odissi dance, did you get any support from the family, and now is anyone else in the family interested in Odissi dance?
I started learning Odissi at the tender age of 8, both dance and music. My mother was the one who taught me my first Odissi song. Even though she had no experience with Odissi dance, she allowed me to explore both music and dance and supported in every way possible.

You have been representing Odissi Globally, tell us some memories of your first performance nationally and internationally?
I have performed in various national and international festivals and every performance is very special to me as a dancer but nationally I must say dancing in Konark festival is one of the highs of my dance career and internationally we travelled to various countries of Africa, and it was very special as the adulation we got for the dance was beyond imagination.

What is the uniqueness of Odissi dance? Shed some light on its excellence.
Odissi nritya has its uniqueness through its Bhangis. Tribhangi and chauka makes the dance form very different. Odissi has typical torso movements which is not used in any other dance form. It has flowy, lyrical hand movements which makes the art form even more beautiful. What I feel is one of the most important things in odissi dance is the very unique Odissi classical music that’s used during the dance.

Who is your inspiration in the Odissi dance world, and who are all your favorite odissi artists?
My favorite dancer in odissi and who inspires me is Guru Shri Kelucharan Mahapatra. Dancers like Smt Sanjukta Panigrahi, Sharon lowen mam, Guru Shri Gangadhar Pradhan, Guru Shri VishnuTatwa Das, Bijayini Satpathy Apa, are few among I adore.

What other dance styles and dancers inspire you besides Odissi?
Being a classical dancer, every other classical dance inspires me . Rama Vaidyanathan ji who is a Bharatnatyam dancer inspires me a lot.

What is your favorite Odia food, favorite Odia song, favorite Odia movie and why?
My favorite Odia food is Pakhala and other things accompanied with that. I like Odia Mansa kasha too. Also Abhada is something that will always be special in my heart. My favorite song is ‘hrudayara ei sunyataku’. My favorite movie is ‘Sesha Shrabana’

What is your favorite Odia book you have read?
My favorite Odia book is ‘Jangyaseni’ by Smt. Pratibha Ray

What is your favorite tourist destination in Odisha? Tell us if you have any memories of that?
My favorite place in Odisha is Puri as I was born in Puri and most of our childhood holidays we used to spend in Puri at my grandparent’s house. Jagannath temple and the sea and the streets of Puri bring lots of special memories in my heart.

How do you spend your free time?
Apart from dancing, I like to keep the house neat, love to host friends at home, and also read and watch some meaningful television.

Tell us about some of your favorite childhood games, memories?
My childhood I remember was carefree, simple. It was never boring and very dynamic. I used to love cycling around; and with age, games kept changing; but, I consider myself always a very outdoor person and loved playing whatever game came on my way.

Which Odia personality has influenced your life and why?
One of the prominent founders of present day Odissi dance form Guru Shri Kelucharan Mahapatra has influenced my life. What has influenced me the most is along with his talent and aura, his simplistic approach to life and his down to earth personality.

What do you think about the future of Odissi dance in Odisha and outside Odisha too?
The future of Odissi in Odisha and outside Odisha is very very bright. It’s now one of the most popular classical dance forms of India. As long as we hold on to our roots and keep growing it will spread more of its wings in a more meaningful way across the globe.

Odisha of your dreams 2050?
Looking at today’s growth, my dream Odisha in 2050 would be a state which is strong in its cultural background, in industrial growth, in infrastructure; would have an unbiased political scenario. Moreover, Odia people I wish would be prouder about their culture

Do you have an interest in anything other than dance?
Apart from dance, what interests me is history, microbiology, interior designing, traditional crafts, traveling to places and learning about different cultures.

Your message for the next generation and youth of Odisha?
My message to the younger generation and the women of Odisha is to follow their heart and not the crowd. Always give your best as nothing comes easy. So work hard in whatever you choose to be your goal and life’s calling. Especially to women, it’s never too late to start afresh. Even if you have invested life differently for years you can always start afresh and do something meaningful to your life.

One last question. What would you like to change or revert if you are given an opportunity to go back to the past?
I guess it’s not right to go back to the past and change anything because our past has made us what we are today. And there is always a reason why the past was how it was. But if I have to answer it straight then I would wish my younger self knew who I was- in a better way, and what was my calling clearly, and what would make me feel complete? But I still feel whatever happens is for the best. No regrets, no looking back is what I feel today is my message.

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