Life’s Little Pleasures

First published in the Deccan Herald, Nov 2014.

Cover photo by Ranjana Dave

It’s true, what they say about the small joys of life. Early mornings suffused by classical music streaming out from ancient record players left vivid impressions on Sharmila Biswas’s childhood in Kolkata.

An accomplished Odissi dancer and choreographer, music has enriched her understanding of dance and life. Even now, there is an elevated register of excitement in her voice as she speaks of learning music along with students at her dance institute, Odissi Vision and Movement Centre.

Biswas is a colourful raconteur. Her dances are layered by the tales she weaves around them — tales of people, places and traditions she has encountered in the course of her research on the regional performance practices of Orissa. Every moment of her dancing reflects this research — in its spontaneity and exuberance, and its unique approach to structure and form.

This year, new and old discoveries come together for Biswas at a poignant juncture, for she is in the midst of creating a curriculum for Odissi dancers. This project emerged from a personal desire to hone the training methodology for Odissi. With an obsessive focus on growing technique and vocabulary, classical dance training can be skewed, paying little more than lip service to its complements — music and poetry, for instance.

Read the rest of the piece on Deccan Herald

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