Proponent Of Odissi Dance
Rendezvous with Vani Madhav
Vani Madhav, one of the countries ace Odissi dancers, is a disciple of the late Guru Dev Prasad lineage through Guru Gajendra Panda and Guru Sudhakar Sahu. Born and brought up in the Chhattarpur District of Odisha, Vani Madhav got the inspiration to learn Odissi from the rich cultural heritage of Odisha. While talking to Uday India, Vani informed that she started learning this dance form at the age of 6. “I got a lot of support and encouragement from my family, since both my parents were inclined towards learning different art forms. While my mother was a veena player, my father played the guitar, but neither of them took music as a career option,” she added.
Vani has been performing for the past three decades, but it’s been 15 years since she has been performing as a solo dancer. She did her post graduation, Sangeet Bhaskar, under Pracheen Kala Kendra, Chandigarh (1992-93). She was awarded the Yuva Ojjaswini Alankaran, Bhopal (MP). She is an Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) empanelled artist. And with the help of ICCR she wants to promote Odissi among the international audience.
For Vani, it hasn’t been a smooth ride. She had to put in a lot of hard work at every step, to get to where she is today. “Each day,” she says, “brings in new inspiration and gives me ideas to contribute and increase the popularity of Odissi not only in India but also in other countries.” Being a distinguished Odissi dancer, Vani never misses the opportunity to watch the performances of some of her favourite dancers, like Bharatnatyam dancer Padma Subramaniam—whom Vani refers to as “Goddess of all dance forms”.
Reminiscing an unforgettable anecdote of her life, Vani said: “At the age of 20, when I was in college, I went to Shantiniketan to represent my university for a youth festival. After my performance, I came to sit in the audience to watch other performances, I was surprised by the overwhelming response I received. Everybody in the audience came to congratulate me and was more interested in talking to me rather than watching other performances.” That, she says, was “extremely memorable”.
Mother of two, Vani never felt the need to let go of her career in order to take care of her family, since her husband is very supportive. Vani is a regular performer and she also teaches in her institute in Gurgaon. She shifted to Gurgaon from Bengaluru in the year 2009 and according to her, there is no difference in the way people acknowledge and appreciate Indian classical dance forms, since “it (Indian classical dance) has its own space in the society”. She maintains that when she was younger, there were not many cultural festivals in the country, whereas in the present-day situation, it’s easier for people to pursue various dance forms, perform more often and get the recognition they deserve.
Vani emphasises that parents should also encourage their children to learn classical dance forms. Since there is no age bar in learning any dance form, anyone with the willingness to learn can get oneself enrolled in long-term or short-term courses. “There is different choreography for different age groups,” she says.
When asked about her future plan, Vani said: “I want to pursue, perform, teach and organise more festivals in a bigger way.” She further said that she wanted to perform at the international level and work towards promoting Odissi. All senior dancers are her inspiration. And watching young performers always help her improve and develop her style. Vani has recently registered for her dance academy in Gurgaon, called Nritya Dhara. And she wishes to organise one-month courses for kids to learn Odissi during their summer break.
By Tulika Rattan