Stephen Rawinder Pikaar, a Dutch national learning Odissi, Anand Foundation

Stephen Rawinder Pikaar, a Dutch national learning Odissi


AS: For how long have you been dancing?
SRP: 20 years, Odissi, not so long.

AS: Dancing and particularly Indian Classical dancing is majorly and incorrectly perceived as an activity taken up by girls. What made you decide to learn Odissi? Were there any inhibitions?
SRP: In our foundation, I was helping with the activities. I happened to like the dance and immediately joined the class. Initially I used to learn all types of dances but after meeting Madhumita didi, I chose Odissi.

AS: Why did you choose Odissi?
SRP: Even though I am Dutch, I was attracted to Odissi’s beautiful music, poses and techniques and I chose classical dancing because of the Guru-Shishya Parampara.

AS: Do you think Odissi is a gender-specific dance form? How comfortable are you portraying a woman character on stage?
SRP: Since time immemorial both men and women have been performing Odissi. For the public eye, maybe it’s prettier to watch women dance but it is definitely suitable for both men and women.

AS: How has the classroom experience been like?
SRP: It has been extremely pleasant. Everybody has great respect for the Guru. Moreover, the interaction between the dancers and students in the classroom is so positive and happy. Learning and practicing dance with your Guru’s blessing will definitely create a happy atmosphere.

AS: How did your family respond to your passion for Odissi?
SRP: They have been supportive throughout. They feel proud of the fact that I am practicing and performing an Indian Classical Dance.

AS: How difficult or easy is it to practice an Indian Classical dance in country that is not a well versed with the Indian aesthetics?
SRP: Dutch people do show an interest. However, they don’t follow classes. Indians here aren’t that well-versed with the classical heritage and are more inclined towards Bollywood and modern styles. But, there are some who express the desire to learn but the drawback is that they want to learn it fast. Patience is extremely important but the kind of lifestyles people lead nowadays, it has become a rare attribute.

AS: I believe your wife has also learnt Odissi. Does it help having a spouse with the same artistic background?
SRP: Yes, it has helped us understand each other better. We also get opportunities to perform duo- programmes.

AS: You are spiritually inclined as well. Is this a result of Odissi?
SRP: No, spirituality was something that I responded to when I was very young. But dance and music, if understood well, are also a form of spirituality, bhaktikaand, karmakaand.

AS: Will you continue dancing? If yes, why?
SRP: I’ll never stop dancing. It’s a part of my life. It’s now a way of living.