Bharatanatyam makes you sail in your minds to the land of the Tamils where this classical dance form was brought to life from the devotees in the Temples. Yet, Suchismita Sen Biswas has the potential to bring you back to the land of Odissi and treat you with this classical dance form. She has been the craftsmen for her disciples for almost 30 years now in the steel city Rourkela, Odisha. She hit the spotlight when she was honored recently at India International Dance Festival, Bhubaneswar.
Being born in Kolkata, Suchismita had the amazing opportunity to be blessed with ThankamaniKutty, the best known guru of Bharatanatyam in Bengal, as her dance instructor. She was the best among all other disciples and was appointed as a jury member for Bharatanatyam in Doordarshan at the mere age of 20.
Obliged by her marriage, she moved to Rourkela and was anxious to get her feet back to where they belonged. “For a few months, I felt completely cut off from dance that was my passion and dream destination as a professional Bharatanatyam dancer. Then, to keep the dancer alive in me, I started teaching Bharatanatyam to the toddlers at the Saswata Sangeetalaya School of music and dance at the NIT campus. And this was my humble beginning as a Bharatanatyam dancer in the State where Odissi was everyone’s first love”, were her exact words.
In a world that shuts off all doors and windows for a lady to pursue her passion after marriage, little did she know that she was about to be a role model for others. She added, “In Rourkela, I found that most of the female dancers stopped dancing after their marriage. I felt so sad that I decided to be back on stage as early as I could. I performed solo within two months of my marriage, in the city in order to encourage them to continue dancing after marriage. This made me friendly with so many female dancers who later supported all my dance initiatives. They started sending their daughters to me to learn.”
She had set up her small workshop in NIT Rourkela where she used to share all she knew with the younger ones. She was denied the permission to add someone from outside the NIT campus in her group and Kalabhumi dance institute was born in 2003. “Since the school was set up by the people who served NIT, ‘outsiders’ were not allowed to learn at their school. But, I wished to popularize Bharatanatyam across the city that was cosmopolitan in character owing to the employees who came from various parts of India and abroad to work at the steel plant. So I set up my own institute. In the past 13 years, Kalabhumi students are performing regularly in many events in Rourkela and of late we are being invited to perform in other parts of Odisha as well. For the first time in Odisha, I staged arangetram (debut show) of eight of my senior disciples recently,” she said.
She is a graduate in psychology and specializes in the education of differently abled children. She was always a backbone for the upliftment of such children and was a part of Home & Hope, Rourkela as an Educator. She was also attached with Dibyang, an institution for the children for special needs as a Principal.
One of the most challenging act in one’s life is to convert the stones being thrown at them into a milestone. “Almost 20 years ago, I had applied for junior fellowship in Bharatanatyam and I was called for an interview to Kalakshetra in Chennai. During the interview I was told that it would not be possible for me to pursue Bharatanatyam in the remote region of Odisha where there was no trace of Bharatanatyam. I was also told that with a kid – I was a mother by then – I would not be able to carry on as a dancer and dance trainer. I am happy to prove them wrong. While the number of my students has been soaring with each passing year and many of them are able to continue dancing despite being mothers, some of them have taken dance as their profession. What more could I have aspired for!”
She has successfully conquered this and has set an example which is enough to motivate anyone who has compromised with the artist in them.