Miki Enoki is an Associate Professor, Ph.D (Econ.), Graduate School of Humanities and Social Science, Nagoya City University, Japan
AS: You have dedicated close to a decade to an Indian Classical dance form. What made you decide that you wanted to learn Odissi?
ME: Learning a particular traditional dance surfaced as an interesting activity. I was particularly drawn to the concept of ‘Guru-Shishya Parampara’. I wanted to learn it in the Indian context and understand how contemporary people, especially the young generation adopt it in their life. It was a kind of anthropological observation for me.
AS: What does Guru-Shishya Parampara mean to you and how has it impacted your life?
ME: I understand it as an authentic Indian tradition. For a foreigner like me, the sole purpose of dancing and learning Odissi under Guru Madhumita Raut was to learn the authentic Indian tradition of Guru-Shishya Parampara and to understand the culture and strive to achieve the realization of Sadhana- the meditation and the commitment in order to dispel negative emotions and attain a calm mind that can make me face any challenges in life. So, to reply to your question, the concept of Guru-Shishya Parampara shows me the way to awaken to perfection and to encounter the Almighty.
AS: Not many choose dance as a form of artistic expression. Why did you choose dance and particularly Odissi and not some other dance form?
ME: Dance is a form of symbolic expression. Initially, I had a strong interest in learning Bharatanatyam. However, I could not find a Guru. I wanted to learn either on weekends or after 5pm or opt for individual lessons. A friend introduced me to ma’am. I guess it was serendipity. Everything is closely connected and I landed here, in ma’am’s class!
AS: What do you take back from your interactions with ma’am?
ME: I am extremely fortunate to have a teacher like her, someone who has an authentic and legitimate knowledge of traditional dancing with a modern sensibility. Her experience abroad adds to her persona.
AS: Do you regret not learning Bharatanatyam?
ME: Not at all!
AS: Did Odissi and the world of Indian Classical dance seem too alien or did you respond to it with ease?
ME: I responded to the World of Indian Classical Dance and particularly Odissi with ease. Having said that, the concept of Hinduism or Indian traditional thinking is something I have to understand with special attention.
AS: Has Odissi dancing had any influence on you? Is there any connection with it when you are off stage?
ME: Yes. I started paying attention to any ‘classical’, ‘traditional’, and ‘religious’ activity around me.
AS: You recently had your Manchapravesh where Odissi steps and Japanese poetry were brought together. How did this collaboration work for you? Did they fuse into each other effortlessly or did you encounter some distance between the two forms of artistic expressions?
ME: In fact, it was a fusion of 3 countries- India, Tibet and Japan. Had I composed them, there would definitely have been a distance among the three. However, as you know, it was composed and choreographed by Madhumita Guruji and the collaboration of the three into the grammar of Odissi had a successful harmonious fusion. They all flowed into each other effortlessly. I really feel that her idea, understanding and dedication towards the Almighty/ World has brought out unbelievable, excellent and beautiful expressions in Odissi dance. She has a God-given gift.
AS: How did your family receive your passion for Odissi?
ME: Initially my husband was quite negative towards my decision of taking up Odissi dance so seriously. However, he changed his mind after seeing my commitment. My 11 year old son also supports me.
AS: Has anyone started learning Odissi after watching you perform or shown interest in Indian Performing Arts at large because of your engagement with Odissi?
ME: Yes. Ms. Rie Tomita who used to work in the Embassy of Japan, used to come for the Saturday class. And my colleague’s daughter, a Japanese in 8th class has a strong interest in learning Odissi. However, right now, things are not working out. Her school in Gurgaon keeps her busy and she stays in Vasant Vihar. Right now, time management is a difficult factor for her.
AS: Will Odissi continue to be a part of your life?
ME: Current circumstances don’t allow me to practice constantly and provide me with the opportunity of performing it in front of public. Nonetheless, yes, Odissi will be a part of my life. I feel it is in my veins now.