Dance Movement Therapy made me more sensitive to dance and in knowing one’s own self – Swapnokalpa Dasgupta

by Ekatmata Sharma
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Swapnokalpa Dasgupta is one of India’s renowned Odissi dancer, she shares her journey as a dancer and the challenges that come with it.

How has been your journey as the Head of Dance programming, NCPA, Mumbai? What are the initiatives you brought forth and what plans you have for the future for the organization?

I feel honoured and blessed to hold the postion at the NCPA. It’s been a phenomenol learning experience for the past 6 years under the guidance of my mentor Mr Khushroo Suntook, the Chairman of the NCPA and the larger NCPA team. Along with maintaining the activities that existed before my time I am happy that I have been able to introduce new activities to the calender. Specially our Dance Outreach and CSR programmes, where we train over 400 children across Mumbai in dance supported by different corporates. Our active Outreach division have had over 100 sessions introducing the nuances of our Indian classical dances in different mainstream schools, NGOs, colleges and educational centres. I am happy to have started platforms for folk dance – NCPA Lok Gatha ; a platform for new choreographies- NCPA Pravaha ; for dances from across the World- NCPA Spectrum and a lecture demonstration series – NCPA Utkarsh. But the most satisfying of all was the 35 day community engagement programme started this year- THE NCPA MUMBAI DANCE SEASON where we collaborated with the vibrant dance community of Mumbai to present engaging dance shows, lecture demonstrations, workshops and other dance activities. Our aim is to make this platform into a launching pad for young dancers of Mumbai and beyond in the future. To me the national centre should not be restricted to a certain group of people of dance styles. It should be a vibrant place to meet, ideate, create and get inspired. There should be platforms for dancers in all stages in their career after they have immersed themselves in this field.

You have been trained in Dance Movement Therapy. Please share insights about it and how it helps people?

My training in Dance Movement Therapy (University of London) was more of psychotherapy as opposed to using dance for healing. It was fascinating to see how movements evoked feelings, brought back memories and helped develop bonds with strangers with no verbal communication. This course introduced me to a whole new way of looking as dance as a way of communication. It made me more sensitive to its application in dance training and knowing one’s own self.

You have been part of International organizations and have promoted dance extensively abroad. How has been the experience and how challenging was it for you?

I have been extremely blessed to have been able to set up the Odissi dance department of Bharatiya Vidya bhavan in London. It was overwhelming to see how the joy of movement can break cultural barriers and reach out to any eager student and audience. The only challenge was being away from home and loved ones.

You curate dance festivals involving all kinds of Classical and Contemporary dance forms. In your opinion how important is it to bring all kinds under one roof?

I firmly believe that dance in its every aesthetically appealing form should be welcome in the national centre of the country. It should be a fair and inclusive space supporting DANCE in all its forms.  

What would you be performing at the Dr Raja Radha Redyy’s Maha Shivratri festival?

I would be performing a traditional Odissi presentation opening with Ardhanariswar stotra going onto a pallavi and ending with an ashtapadi. All of the above are choreographies of Guru Kelucharan Mahapatra.

Swapnokalpa Dasgupta will be performing at the 3rd  Edition of Maha Shivaratri’ Festival ( In Ode of Lord Shiva ) on 4th March 2019 between 7:00 PM- 1:00AM at ‘Raja Radha Rangmanch’ Natya Tarangini’s Amphitheatre, Saket, New Delhi

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