Remember the story about a princess, who left her palace, in peasant clothes, to be with her subjects? I am reminded of that story, ‘The Princess on the Street’, when I am told about Kcalpana Bhushan Takyar, the dancing princess. Kcalpana comes from a princely family and has a good reputation as a dancer. She has been giving performances for more than 23 years. She has mastered Bharathanatyam, Kuchipudi, Kathak and Mohiniattam. Her degrees include Ph.D in Bharathanatyam, Sangeet Prabhakar, Sangeet Praveen and Nritya Visharad. She has also done intensive studies in folk dances. This is her story.
Kcalpana started her dancing lessons at the age of four due to the passion of her mother who is the princess of the RIKH family of a princely estate in U.P., Raja Ka Tajpur. Kcalpana was put under the guidance of many renowned and extremely qualified Gurus of different styles, Bharathanatyam, Kuchipudi, Kathak, Mohiniattam, Kathakali, Folk Dances, Classical Vocal Music, Guitar, Sitar, Violin, Tabla and Harmonium. Coming from the royal family, Kcalpana and her mother faced much criticism, demoralizing annotations and atrocious behavior from family, friends and acquaintances.
Despite all these, she studied and gave exams for dance and music and also achieved doctorate. She says, “Performing in the remotest villages all over India, I realized early in my career that talent was not restricted and did not discriminate.”
Her performances have been appreciated by several dignitaries like the late Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, late Presidents Shankar Dayal Sharma, Giani Zail Singh, R. Venkataraman, ambassadors and delegates of foreign countries to India.
Her performance inaugurated the Asiad-82 in the Vigyan Bhawan in Delhi and she specially choreographed dances for the NAM Youth Fest, in Delhi. She was the cultural head of Khomcha Mela, 1986 at ITFI, Pragati Maidan, the first exhibition of its kind. She was the first danseuse to perform by herself in 3 different styles, viz. Bharathanatyam, Kuchipudi and Kathak on the same evening. She has also represented India in a NHK, Japan Television Centre film production entitled ‘Children of the World’. With her sister, she has been among the first to introduce and perform Bharathanatyam on Sitar and Tabla.
With an urge to spread knowledge and with whatever she had learned, she opened her school in 1977 in Calcutta and charged minimum fees. Soon she opened her own school, Anupam Kala Kendra for the deserving and talented but opportunity and monetarily deprived students. Anupam Kala Kendra has become a big name and its students have given a number of performances on stage and T.V.
Coming to the capital, her registered school became a registered NGO, Kcalpana Kala Kendra to help her achieve in her mission. Kcalpana informs, “The NGO encourages children and adults to learn all kinds of dance, music and sport activities like kickboxing, karate and gymnastics not only as hobby but to pursue career in the form of teaching, performing, choreographing and consultation. Kcalpana Kala Kendra (K3) focuses on giving scholarships to anyone, who wants to grow in life but could not because of some reason or the other. K3 loves to give back to the society due to which it has grown. On its agenda are tree plantations, cleanliness drives, pollution control, traffic sorting, education and road safety, blood donation camps, general health checkups and for females in particular, education for the lower strata, computer literacy, helping the girl child develop her personality and being independent. K3 has opened a club for helping in little details of daily life and cheering the senior citizens. K3 is still young on the horizon, but believes there is scope for repaying back to the society.”
Kcalpana Kala Kendra, gives free training to only people from rural-background. Elite people have to pay the prescribed fees. The people from rural background are not only trained in dance, but also they are taught education, ethics, etc. In this age of multi talented individuals and so many different styles of dance and exercises both Indian and western, K3 helps its students decide their type of dance in their own personalized way according to every individual’s persona, character, style and choice.
Kcalpana insists that her institute is different. She insists, “Other institutes give one demo and are done with it. The difference lies in that K3 gives an insight to knowing and judging different styles and personally interacting with instructors. This course is of maximum 8 weeks and consists of regime, the first half of the class consisting of different exercises helping in muscle flexibility, mobility stretching, strengthening, body toning and increasing stamina. After which a vocabulary of steps from different styles is taught and practiced by the students, including Bharathanatyam, Kathak, Kuchipudi, Kathakali, etc., Western dances like ballet, jazz, hip hop, contemporary, salsa, etc., oriental dances like belly plus Bollywood and gymnastics, aerobics, some relaxing methods like yoga and meditation. A student promotes himself or herself from this course to the main course of his or her own style.”
She adds, “Kcalpana Kala Kendra is affiliated to Prayag Sangeet Samiti, Allahabad, wherein we promote and encourage students to appear in yearly exams starting from SPP (0 year) to 6th year. 2nd year and 4th year are junior diplomas and sixth year is degree, where there are theory classes leading to exams. In addition to this K3 offers certificate course of six months and 1 year duration.”
She insists that her financial support system includes the paid performances given by the Kendra. She says, “Kcalpana Kala Kendra performs events for which the money it generates is grossed for the training. Apart from that the NGO trains students from the rural background for free, but it charges full fees from people who can afford it.”
Her emotional support system includes her mother. She says, “I belong to a princely family, thus when I had decided to choose this profession then I faced a lot of hurdles, but at that time my mother supported me at the same time my own passion and indomitable spirit helped me, It was very difficult to choose dance as a mainstream career, when at my own place, dance used to be considered as a profession for leisure. I have never needed emotional support as such. When you have a path in front of you then there is hardly any need of an emotional support system.”