Published: 26th May 2021
How this 27-year-old's Odissi guru, Bijayini Satpathy, taught her everything she knows today
Akshiti Roychowdhury fell in love with dance much before she knew what Odissi was. But now, she is a disciple of one of the most noted Odissi dancers of India and this is how she lives up to it
Far too much emphasis is laid on having the right teacher who moulds their students in a way that the world can see and take inspiration from but not enough is said about the right student, who, like a sponge, absorbs all that the teacher surrounds them with. One of the recent student-teacher, or guru-shishya, relationships we have come across is that of Bijayini Satpathy and Akshiti Roychowdhury.
Bijayini Satpathy is a famed Odissi dancer who has made a place for herself and her Nrityagram Dance Village in Bengaluru and Akshiti was an aspiring student who, very early on in life, as early Class XII, understood that dancing is what she wanted to dedicate her life too. She did not even need a safety net in the form of a degree so she plunged right in. "When I was accepted at Nrityagram and started training, initially, I struggled with the long hours, but eventually, I not only caught up but really started enjoying it as well," says the 27-year-old who spent six years at Nrityagram to learn and then, an additional two to teach.
Akshiti also loves to choreograph and hopes to open her own dance studio one day
Honorable performances at The Music Academy, Chennai, and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, New York City, US, followed and Akshiti grew closer and closer to her guru. After Nrityagram, she briefly worked at The Valley School before her teacher asked her to work under her again. Of course, she jumped at the opportunity. They started teaching online via unlisted YouTube videos and just when the pandemic came down upon us, the youngster, who was born and brought up in Kolkata and Delhi, moved from her guru's place in February 2021 and started taking online classes on her own.
Akshiti (Pic: Akshiti Roychowdhury)
What makes Akshiti's Odissi dance classes special is that she tries to replicate the same guru-shishya parampara that she blossomed under for her students. Individual attention and feedback are key. "My passion lies in the fact that students should learn in a healthy and comfortable environment. I also believe that students learn a lot more while watching, those minor details especially. That's why, even if the student is feeling sick, I encourage them to just watch the class," she says passionately. The focus is also on theory, rare for a dance class, building muscle memory and understanding the very vocabulary of Odissi.
She doesn't take more than nine to ten students in one online class so that she can give individual attention
Currently, Akshiti, who is based out of Bengaluru, takes online classes in two batches and the age group she caters to falls between 6 and 45. She caters to students from the US, the UK, Singapore and Turkey too. Would you like to join in?
The guru and her school:
- Bijayini Satpathy is an Odissi dancer you should know about. She joined Nrityagram in 1993 and has learnt Odissi in Odisha
- She developed a scientific body training programme that borrows from yoga, Western fitness methods and Odissi body conditioning exercises
- She is the recipient of the Sangeet Natak Akademi's Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar and several other prestigious awards
- She left Nrityagram in 2018 to chart a course of her own, again
For more on her reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org