In Conversation with Kathak Dancer Somosukla Sarkar
"Somosukla Sarkar is a devoted dancer, who always looks towards innovation in creativity."
With many performances in her stride, warmly applauded by the media, she has performed in highly acclaimed shows like, “Meera Bai” a unique dance drama choreographed by Smt. Saswati Sen and Sri Bhaskar Rout based on Kathak and folk style. She has many noted performances to her credit, like “Gurukul” (Colors Bangla-bengali entertainment channel) under the choreography of Sri Bhaskar Rout. She has performed on Gyan Manch and many other renowned stages in Kolkata under Guru Smt. Surangama Lala Dasgupta, she has done several stage shows in Allahabad and Lucknow in classical dance under Sri Suchitra Bhattacharya, performed in two short films “Volente” and “Aghor Baba” under the direction of Sri Sourajit Roy and presently she is working with Sri Bhaskar Rout as a professional dancer.
Besides being a Kathak Dancer Somosukla Sarkar is a graduate in Bengali Hons. with Masters in Mass Communication and is currently pursuing Msc in Applied Psychology. She is a recipient of “Sangeet Prabhakar” title for Kathak from Prayag Sangeet Samiti, Allahabad, “Sangeet Bivakar” title for Rabindra Nritya (Tagore Dance) from “Bangiya Sangeet Parishad”, and “Madhyama” title for Kathak (Theory and Practical) from Bhatkhande Sangit Vidyapith, Lucknow. She is also learning Bharatanatyam under the able guidance of Shri P.T. Narendran (Kalakshetra, Chennai).
She has taught Kathak, folk, creative dances at “Soujatya Govt Home”in Kolkata and Kathak, folk creative at “Srisiralaya” well-known N.G.O at Kolkata. Somosukla learned Kathak from famous exponent of Kathak, Smt. Surangama Lala Dasgupta for 5 years. Attended workshop in Contemporary under Imani Gaston from USA. Worked as a Kathak trainer with “Probaho” in “Pragathi Central School” in Hyderabad. She worked in “The Learning Stem International School” as a dance teacher in Madhya Pradesh. She has specialized in Kathak and has been practicing the dance form for the last 28 years & presently learning Kathak under the guidance of Guru Surangama Lal aDasgupta. Also well versed in Indian Creative Choreographic style she has choreographed Dance ballets based on Classical Indian Dance forms as well as Rabindrik (Tagore), folk and creative dance styles under Surangama Lala Dasgupta & Bhaskar Raut.
In this exclusive interview with Chrysanthemum Chronicles Somosukla disclosed the most poignant feelings of her heart saying that she will feel she has achieved something when the world accepts her as a dancer just as they accept an engineer or a doctor as a serious profession.
Cc. From what age did you start to learn dancing? What inspired you to be a Kathak dancer and why did you choose this dance form to be your forte?
Somosukla Sarkar. I started learning Kathak from the age of 7. In childhood time, only parents can take the decision. Then gradually I fell in love with Kathak because of its uniqueness. Eye movements, neck movements, posture, dresses all are really unique. Footwork, spin with avinaya really attracted me a lot. Moreover, it's an only dance form where we can see the unity of religion, like... the same bolebani we call it Pranami and Selami.
Cc. How do you see dance as an art form, is it a personal talent or a professional medium to express yourself ? Since you train many students do you feel that dance can be a medium of greater expression of art ?
Somosukla Sarkar. It surely is a personal talent but every art form needs a professional touch too.Yes indeed, in its origins, dance was meant to be used as a way of communication for ceremonial rites and celebrations, mostly. But today dance is not limited to theaters or shows but it can be found anywhere, be it schools, streets, and even in shopping malls. Through dance, dancers can express feelings and emotions, conveying a message to the audience.
When I teach I always find my students happy and smiling because they are not only dancing but enjoying each and every step of it while expressing their love for it. I would also like to mention an incident when my dance guru was coming back from another state. We choreographed a dance for her to express our feeling that how bad we missed her. After performing we found everyone was literally crying on the stage including our guru.
So I think dancing is an open way to express feelings. Communication is not limited to words only, as bodily movement is an important factor in expressing ourselves.
Cc. Whom you have learnt Kathak from? I mean who are your gurus, and how much dance makes one disciplined in life?
Somosukla Sarkar. The journey of my dance started with my first Dance guru Sri Swapan Dey. Then I was with Smt Chaitali Chatterjee & Smt Sulagna Dhar. Then I met the person who made me realize that Dance has become an inseparable part of my life, Smt Mononia Mitra. I also used to get trained under Smt Surangama Lala Dasgupta.
You simply cannot expect to learn dance, without being disciplined in your life. It involves accuracy, focus & concentration that enable you to move gracefully, in perfect alignment with your inner balance. Dancing is all about perfection. And if you want to be perfect you have to be disciplined in your life.
Cc. Would it be incorrect if I say dance is a form of meditation? How much would you agree that it has shaped or evolved you in a woman who you are?
Somosukla Sarkar. Yes! Dance is not only a form of an art but it is the best meditation. Dancing requires dedication, practice, and patience. A dancer must control the muscles of her entire body while looking fluid and graceful. You got to be super focused that you can't miss a single beat of the music.
It helps me to live in the moment. If you want to shed the past and live in the present, you should take up dance as a form of meditation. While you are deep down into dance you are completely focused on executing it in the best possible and graceful way. Just like any other form of meditation it helps me to gain control over my mind. And the best part of it, it allows you to establish a strong spiritual connection with other fellow dancers.
Cc. Besides Kathak what other dance forms you perform in and are you learning any other form of dancing?
Somosukla Sarkar. Yes! I have learned Contemporary under Sri Bhaskar Routh and Sri Prasun Banerjee, Latin American form Salsa under Sri Sudipto Pedro and belly dancing under Smt. Satakshi Ganguli.
Cc. Where do you belong from and how did dancing happen? Was it your conscious choice? I mean did you want to be a Kathak dancer from the very beginning?
Somosukla Sarkar. I am a proud Bengali from Dinhata, a small & beautiful town under Coochbehar district. Bengalis tend to have a special appreciation for art and literature. Thus it was my parents who made the decision that I should learn this dance form. And by the time I completed my 10th standard, I decided to be a professional dancer as I already found that it made me happy. Dance was my passion, my life. So after graduation, I wanted to do Post graduation in Kathak from RBU. But I did post-graduation in Mass communication as it was chosen by my father. Then I joined a finance company but continued to learn dance. But it became very difficult for me to maintain a balance between these two. I realized I couldn't carry like this any longer & decided to leave my job.
Then I started freelancing and came to know about the term "Struggle". But I was fortunate enough to get support from my guru SMT. Surangama Dasgupta and Sri Bhaskar Routh. This was the time I really realized the reality of life at the same time got the chance to learn other dance forms like, belly, contemporary, salsa, Bharatnatyam and Street dance. And this way I was able to take my passion as my profession.
Cc. Being a woman have you ever faced any challenges in moving ahead towards your dream? Would you like to suggest few words for those who have an inclination towards some form of artistry but are not able to find a right path to display their talent?
Somosukla Sarkar. No, I have never faced that type of challenge. And it is all because of my gurus who have been there for me for any needs. I would also like to mention my brother and my cousin who both have been a great support. I would say that take your art as your first love, do the hard work, and never take a short way for success, make yourself as your competitor, don't compromise your art and enhance your knowledge ... there is no substitute for knowledge.
Cc. Would you like to put some light upon your achievements as I know you have won various awards? Where do you desire to take your art form to, I mean you must be having a vision?
Somosukla Sarkar. It is true that I have earned fame in the field of Dance. Last year, I was also entitled to the Kala Ratna Award. But I don't count this as my achievement.
My aim is to extend the Dance form to such level, that when someone comes to know about our profession they shouldn't ask any further what you are doing apart from dancing? I faced this question numerous times in my life. Tell me one thing, have you ever heard a doctor or an engineer is doing something apart from their own job? No, right! I also want that like a doctor's parents, our parents proudly saying to everyone that Yes! my son or my daughter is a dancer. When that day will arrive I'll achieve everything.
Cc. Lastly would you agree to this notion, that dancing is a form of poetry? Poetry of bodily gestures perhaps we could say. What is your thought process on it?
Somosukla Sarkar. I must say 'Yes', just like a poet's poetry dance is also the creation of a dancer. We have everything in common, be it the rhythm, alankar, feelings, or the imagination. When a person stops reading the words with eyes and instead, listen and feel them with her/his body & then translate the emotions, the punctuation, the words and moments into motion a dance emerges. A poet can make a sky bluer and a dancer is able to create the sky in front of the audience with her/his body movements.
The above interview has been conducted by Monalisa Joshi, Chief Editor of Chrysanthemum Chronicles. If you are an artist, writer, or a published author and wish to get an online interview done with Cc then send in your queries to email@example.com