Despite a birth defect in her left foot, Aparna Mishra struggled to reach the position of the director of a Kathak institute. Armed with a management degree and a post-graduation in Kathak, she worked with corporate companies while running her own institute, Kala Saadhna. Here is a small tête-à-tête with the Kathak danseuse and Guru.
Where were you born? Tell us something about your childhood?
Born and brought up in Patna, Bihar. I was born with a defect in my left foot, so my grandmother decided instead of going for physiotherapies, which is stressful for a child, to put me in some physical activity. At the age of 3, I started learning Kathak and the journey began. In 2006, I also cleared Indian army (SSB Allahabad) test, which has very high standards of physical, logical and medical screening. I was glad to pass that. Knowing Kathak, as a kid I always felt a little extra special than other friends around. I didn’t realize when that feeling of being extra special turned into confidence and started grooming my personality.
Full educational qualifications.
By education, I am a management graduate and M.Ed in Kathak from Pracheen Kala Kendra, Chandigarh
How did you found your institute?
In Patna, we have a huge courtyard with maids and servants and while they were working, their kids, who were not allowed inside, they used to play in the backyard. They inspired me to spread this “extra special feeling” and I began teaching them Kathak. It became my passion and I started feeling comfortable with practice and confident about myself. In 2002, with my grandmother and my Guruji’s (Sri Suman Kant Jha) support, I officially started this journey with a name Kala Saadhna, engaging myself with people of all ages!
Tell us more about the event Kathak for him.
My recent research work in Kathak, Kathak for him, is a unique 90 min workshop, using a series of male specific foot work, bhaav, bol and body postures using Fibonacci series, (a mathematical pattern which is prevalent in nature). The target of this workshop is to reach and introduce Kathak to masses not only as form of entertainment but as a life changing experience. This will help to break the stereotypes about dance and liberate people. Our society still practices gender-based inequalities socially and behaviorally. In the fight to prove the superiority of one gender over other, we have forgotten to enjoy the gender inequalities. Yes, the make of a man is different than women. However, does that mean either should be considered strong or weak?
Workshop is an attempt to highlight, discuss and celebrate the gender inequalities in terms of strength, weakness, emotions, areas of power and delicacy through Kathak. We appreciate equality, so let’s also appreciate and celebrate, not shy away from these inequalities – the way nature has made us”
What are the challenges faced by newbies in this field? What would be your advice to them?
Classical dance teachers find it challenging to retain the interest of students. They need to be patient, have in-depth knowledge of their respective dance forms before starting to teach. What I’ll sincerely advice them is to have complete knowledge and command over the subject to be confident and creative. For contemporary western forms, innovation plays it all. But for classical dance you need to have a base, in-depth knowledge and command over the subject to be able to teach.
What do you see in the future – for the institute and yourself?
It may sound a little madness! I plan to reach every corner of world and reintroduce classical dance to the new generation in my own style – without leaving the purity of the form. Apart from this, through my NGO, I would like to connect to more kids and adults who are not educated, who can’t afford to get educated, and most importantly who don’t want to go for further education.
Engagement, Education (Kathak training), Employment – the 3Es is the core vision I follow. I am trying to touch the lives of as many as I can to empower. We train them in Kathak and give them a degree (affiliated from Pracheen Kala Kendra, Chandigarh). Once they are trained and polished they are hired in my dance troupe and they earn through dance performances. It’s a small initiative to make the society free of unemployment and idle mind.
What do you do when you are not dancing or teaching?
When I am not dancing …nor teaching, all I am doing is dreaming of a good future and success, which I owe to all who believe in me and associates with me.
Any message for our readers?
Always be true to self, live your dreams, be innovative, look beyond your fears … and believe in yourself.