When she was a toddler, Sudeshna Swayamprabha Tathoi took her first steps to the enchanting beats of Indian classical percussion, and has been a devoted student of her mother -- renowned Manipuri dancer, exponent and guru Sharmila Bannerjee -- for 18 years.
“I grew up watching my mother dance and just followed her footsteps,” says Sudeshna. “My first stage performance was when I was only four years old. We were in Florida, USA where many expat children were performing with us.”
Sudeshna is trained in two forms of classical dance -- Bharatanatyam and Manipuri. She trained in Bharatanatyam under the tutelage of esteemed artiste and guru, Amala Shankar. Even though dedicated to the beauty of Manipuri and Bharatanatyam, Sudeshna also has a knack for creative dance, where she can blend mudra from different forms. “This generation wants to witness new and exciting art forms, and I believe creative dance opens up a platform to all dancers to let our imaginations run wild.”
“I believe if you are passionate enough about something, anything is possible. Of course, I had a lot of support from my mother who kept pushing -- and at the same time -- supporting me. I would sometimes take my homework, school assignments or other reading material to my rehearsals and get some work done while the other dancers were practicing. Since I had a desire to do what I love, I never let my studies get in the way of my dance and vice-versa. I am in university and have gotten adjusted to juggling these two sectors of my life, but I still have to give up certain rehearsals. My mother gives me the chance to catch up though, so we manage together,” says Sudeshna about keeping up with her anthropology studies at Dhaka University, and the perks of having her mother as a mentor.
Sudeshna has participated in several prestigious shows, both at home and abroad. She participated in the 2003 Kalidas Festival in India, where she performed in “Chitrangada”. She has also won first place in a dance competition on BTV, titled “Tarana”. Her art has taken her places, including Dubai, Norway and Sri Lanka.
Sudeshna has passed both Bharatanatyam and Manipuri courses at Chhayanaut with flying colours, and is now an instructor at the same institution where her mother also teaches. But she has bigger plans. “I want to go abroad soon after my undergrad, and learn new forms of dance. Of course, I will always have my mother's guidance. But I also look forward to doing something on my own. The reason I am studying anthropology is so that I can relate my academic life to my dance, and this in turn will help me with further work. I want to use the knowledge I already have to go abroad, gain more experience and use it to the fullest when I come back. I plan on continuing my mother's work, and maybe someday fill her shoes. She has formed an institution, Nritya Nandan, which has a solid background. Being her protégé is a matter of much pride for me.”