Steps for a dance form

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  • Published 25.05.08

Name: Banani Chakraborty

Age: 49

Claim to fame: Chakraborty is an ardent practitioner of Gaudiya Nritya, a composite dance form with ancient roots. The style would have been lost had it not been for the efforts of a few like Chakraborty.

Twinkle toes: Brought up in Madhya Pradesh, she took to the stage from school. “There was not much opportunity to learn classical dance. But I used to take part in school programmes,” says Chakraborty. Her formal training began when she shifted to Calcutta after her marriage in 1987. She began with Manipuri.

Since 1993, Chakraborty has been primarily involved with Gaudiya Nritya. “The form is enriched with drama, poetry, colour and rhythm. It has roots in Natyashastra and is made up of Chhou (heroic), Nachni (shringar) and Kushan (devotional) forms. My guru is my sister Mahua Mukherjee. I have received training in Chhou, Kushan, Bishahara and Nachni. The vandana in Gaudiya Nritya is performed standing on an earthen pot, with a thala and chamad in hand.”

Sole agenda: Chakraborty was a senior research fellow in Gaudiya Nritya in the central culture department. Her area of interest are the devdasis of Bengal, who were instrumental in spreading the style. “Devdasis, in fact, played a pivotal role in the development of many classical dance forms in India.”

Chakraborty has performed in almost all the states in India and in Bangladesh. “I make it a point to start my shows with Gaudiya Nritya. The organisers are sometimes not keen on this form of dance, but often change their views after the performances. My primary aim is to popularise Gaudiya Nritya.”

Training the future: She runs a school called Mitrayan, where about 50 students learn Gaudiya Nritya. “I stress on theory so that the students understand what they are performing.”

Projects: Chakraborty has staged Rabindranath Tagore’s Chandalika in Gaudiya Nritya style. “I am thinking of performing Tagore’s Tasher Desh through Gaudiya Nritya next year. It will take time to execute the idea.”