Children often fulfil the dreams of their parents and in this story of Manjushri, this rings very true. Manjushri is a young talent of Goa who achieved great heights in the field of art and creativity that very few children can reach. Manjushri developed a love for dance right from an early age and the seed of that art was sowed in her by her mother who wanted to become a classical dancer but due to various reasons, she could not fulfil her dreams.
Manjushri’s journey started at the age of 8 when she was in the 4th grade of her school and her parents observed her passion for the art of dance. Manjushri is a trained professional classical dancer with a post-graduation degree in Bharat Natyam Dance form and besides performing live, she also teaches classical dance form to others. Manjushri also has a dream of creating Goa’s biggest dance academy.
“My journey into the classical dance form started at the age of 8 when I met my Guru, Kshitija Brave, who suggested to my father that I have a talent and will do great things if trained in the Bharat Natyam Dance form,” said Manjushri adding, there are two dance forms in Indian classical dance: Kathak and Bharat Natyam “She looked at me and told my father that I will be a good fit for the Bharat Natyam dance form and that she will be happy to train me.”
Manjushri trained for four years under the guidance of her first guru Dr Kshitija Barve. “After four years she shifted back to her native place in Kolhapur,” said Manjushri. “My initial training started with her and one most important lessons I learned from her is time management & discipline. She was very particular about timing: if you were late even by one minute you are out, and I learned the value of time from her. She taught me a very important life lesson and that is being human, which is most important, being punctual and sincere in life. After she went back to Kolhapur, I met my current Guru, Mandira Joshi Tirodkar.”
According to Manjushri, the new teacher came with a new style of the dance form. “My earlier Guru Kshitija Barve use to teach me the Kalakhetra style and Mandira Joshi teaches “Tanjore Baani” style of the dance form,” said Manjushri, adding that within a short time, the bond between her and Guru Mandira Joshi kept getting better. “She is the reason that today I have achieved my post-graduation in the Bharat Natyam dance form from Mumbai. She is the one who believed in me and made me believe that I can make a career in the field of classical dance.”
“My Guru, Mandira Joshi, took me to Mumbai to her college, to her Guru, Sandhya. Goa has very limited scope for the classical dance form, especially the Bharatnatyam dance form and it’s because of her that I reached this level, otherwise I would not have known that there is a career in classical dancing,” she said, adding when she went to Mumbai, she realised that it’s a big ocean out there and she has a lot to explore in this dance form. “It is in Mumbai that the real growth started in me. My Guru Sandhya is the winner of the Sangeet Natya Academy Award.”
According to Manjushri, dance is not just performing an act but there is a big amount of theory behind it. “In Mumbai, I met Guru Sandhya who has an ocean of knowledge in the classical dance form. She not only teaches dance and theory, but she also helps in building an entire character of a person as an artist. I owe a lot to my Guru Mandira Joshi who held my hand and took me to Mumbai where I was able to finish my post-graduation in the Bharatnatyam dance form,” said Manjushri.
Manjushri has been practising since she was eight years old and she had completed seven years of studies in the field of the classical dance form, which is a huge achievement for a young girl of just 21 years old. She gives credit for all her achievements to her Gurus and parents. “It is because of the efforts of my Guru and my parents and without their support, I would not have reached this far,” said Manjushri. According to Manjushri, dance is not just part of their study or degree for her, but it is much more than that. “The most important thing is that dance gives me happiness and it makes me grow with it. I connect the dance to meditation. Dance also helps in the tremendous mental growth. I give the entire credit to my Guru who teaches us to be disciplined and dedicated.”
As far as the academic journey of Manjushri goes, she graduated in the Arts stream with Economics as her major subject, but here is another story behind this., She initially went into the field of science, only to realise that it was not for her and after Higher Secondary, she shifted to the arts stream. “Dance is an art, there is much more than just moving the body around to music: it is more about expression, which comes after a lot of practice,” said Manjushri, “In my case, despite knowing and learning classical dance for more than a decade, I realised that my facial expressions were blank. I wanted my movements to be perfect and hence I worked more on them and forgot the importance of facial expression. When I realised that, I started working on it. I joined an acting course and it took a lot of time but finally, I managed to get the right expressions.”
Like many youths, Manjushri is very much active in all fields: she loves to dance and she also liked acting, right from a young age. “Acting is a very important part of dance performances since on the stage when we dance the only way of communication with the audience is our facial expressions and one has to be very sure what expressions he or she sending across to the audience. In acting, you can express yourself by way of dialogues, but in dance you can only speak through your eyes and that is the most difficult talk,” she added.
Manjushri did her post-graduation in the Bharatnatyam dance form while doing her graduation simultaneously in Economics so she is a very good multitasker. She also has a dream of setting up a dance academy in the state of Goa. According to Manjushri, dance should also be a career option in Goa, which is not there at moment. “If someone is really pursuing his or her career in classical dance and there are no opportunities, then what is the point,” said Manjushri adding, she wants to set up her own dance school here in Goa. “I did my studies in Economics since I wanted to have knowledge of it in my daily life. But my dream is to set up a proper institution for classical dance in Goa, I want the people to graduate in Goa and go on to national and international levels.”
“I have seen that many people stop dancing after taking it due to various reasons and one of the major reasons is that they feel there is no career in dance because we don’t have opportunities here and that is true to quite an extent. I appeal to all those young students who have opted for dancing as their career – please do not give up and go ahead with it. Art is a field that can provide much bigger opportunities than just sitting at an office table and doing a normal job. You need to have a proper plan and pursue your passion. I want that our state should also have the kind of opportunities that many states in the country have. They are growing in the classical dance field and we need to have them in Goa. Once there is an institution – a college for classical dance, the students from Goa will have an opportunity to do their graduation in classical dance right here in Goa and I am sure it will surely happen one day.”