I am blessed to be surrounded by an unusually artistic family. My mother loved dance and practiced bharatanatyam until she injured her back in a skiing accident.
When she noticed my penchant for dance, she enrolled me with the best bharatanatyam guru, which was 40 min away from my house at least 2x a week. She forced me to go even when I complained about feeling “sick” or flat out just didn’t want to get yelled at that day for bad form...
At the same time, Ma tutored me in math every day and groomed me to be a doctor as I began to excel in science. My whole life, my parents expected that I maintain dance and school at the highest standards to lead a very pragmatic successful life as a “doctor dancer” (an actual coined term for me 🙄).
Growing up, my first role model was my uncle. At the age of 2, I would copy his solos in my living room twirling and falling over and over again. He chose to pursue dance full-time at 20 - an incredibly controversial decision (especially in his time) that MY parents supported him through. Against all odds, he made it to the top of the Bengali arts industry as one of the most famed choreographers in Kolkata today.
This made my uncle simultaneously encourage and discourage me from ever taking the arts seriously. He couldn’t be responsible for leading my parents’ only daughter towards one of the most unstable, fragile, and difficult careers that exist.
I had access to performing all over the world, featuring in music videos & T.V. shows, and assisting huge productions with my uncle. And with every opportunity, I was introduced as the big choreographer’s niece who was going to medical school. I lived in a curated identity to please the people around me.
Finding my own identity is something that I’ve gotten a better grasp on over the past years. But after breaking the mold I found myself boxed in, I’ve realized that identity is still a confusing thing. That’s because it’s way more than balancing American + desi stereotypes.
I am shaped by my parents who raised me to be rational, balanced, and self-sufficient. I am created by my constant exposure to the Indian arts from the best in the industry. I am influenced by the NJ urban dance community that took me in when I needed to explore.
Dance is my way of exploring the things that have informed my identity. It’s my life. Dance helps me re-examine who I am and what the world is as people, stories, and ideas change. All I can say for now is I’m excited to see where it brings me next...