Pooja Sengupta is one of the most celebrated dance artistes of the country. She completed her MS in Physics from Dhaka University and MA in Dance from Rabindra Bharathy University. The trained Bharathanatyam dancer has been highly appreciated for her individuality, innovative style of dancing and creative ideas and research on Dance Education. Pooja, also a member of International Dance Council, UNESCO, has presented her art at many prestigious platforms at home and abroad. Recently, our correspondent Md. Jahidul Islam talked to this artiste and tried to explore her current activities, beyond. Here is an excerpt of the conversation.
How are you?
I’ve lost my mother on January 29 this year. Her absence has created an irreparable void in my life. I’m trying to be happy for the sake of my mother. No matter where she is, I’m sure she is watching me. That’s why I’m trying my best to be happy.
What are you busy with at the moment?
I’m staying at home, spending time with family. Also, I’m continuing all my artistic activities from home. We launched a series of online classes titled ‘Upanayan’ last year. In ‘Upanayan’ there are three different streams-Workout, reading and lifestyle. We have been carrying out a daily online workout classes since March 2020. We are also organising online discussions on life style. I’m also working on the script and design of my upcoming production and taking part in prestigious online int’l festivals.
Your theatrical dance performance ‘Odommo’, marking Bangabandhu’s birth centenary and golden jubilee of Bangladesh’s independence has got huge acclamation from the audience. Tell something about ‘Odommo’?
Odommo means indomitable. The production is an attempt to portray the indomitable spirit of Bangabandhu. The entire production is designed on a chessboard which represents the system in Pakistan era, where Bengalis were never given a level playing field. But Bangabandhu dreamt of a sovereign land. He also turned this dream into reality by establishing independent Bangladesh. I myself played his role in the 15-minute production staged at the national parade ground. The amount of appreciation we have received from the audience ensures the acceptance of this experiment. It also proves that we have a quality audience; all we need is to provide with them quality productions through proper planning and execution.How did you get involved in dancing?
In my childhood, my mother introduced me to all different arenas of art and culture, including, art, music, theatre and dance; but after a certain period, I realised that dancing is the field where I feel much confident. Since then, I started to continue my journey.
Which is your favorite form of dance?
Well! There are many! But I don’t have inclination towards one specific form. I believe in making and breaking circles. That’s why I always do experiment with different art forms. I strongly believe that this is the only way to immortalise art.
What is your view on dance as a profession?
My parents were totally against my taking dance as a full-time career. When I started my career as a professional dance artiste, I could not find any role model for myself. I’ve created my own path and walked on it. In 2014, I founded ‘Turongomi’ with a vision to establish an individual pattern of Bangladeshi contemporary dance to provide a platform to young dancers like me. Today, apart from establishing me as a dance artiste at home and abroad, Turongomi is also figuring out opportunities for other young dance professionals. Many young dancers visit me at my studio; they want to take dancing as a career. While performing at mainstream int’l festivals I felt the audience and organisers have shown great interest in our new signature style of Bangladeshi dance.
How will you evaluate the present state of dance?
We are very optimistic about the present state of dance. In Bangladesh, Turongomi Repertory Dance Theatre has been able to establish an individual contemporary style of dancing. Turongomi has established research based dance practice and education which enabled us to create new steps, ideas and apply them in our int’l productions. Alongside, other artists and dance groups are practicing foreign dance styles which have added diversity to Bangladeshi dance. Internationally acclaimed dance institutes are more united now. Apart from regular dance based activities, we, the dance fraternity around the world is thinking about aspects like gender neutral dance movements, cultural diplomacy and dance education for physically challenged learners etc. These thoughts have helped us to expand the volume and reach dance enthusiasts worldwide. The successful adaptation of western steps and moves into our classical dance to create new types of performing art, to me, is the greatest difference being made in present time.
What is your advice for the young dance artistes?
Our young dance artistes are doing great. Many of them are extremely good in dancing skills but they lack totality and creativity. I would suggest them to avoid the tendency of copying others’ work. Also, they need to create their own creative work rather than only dancing on hit numbers.