Arpita Shirodkar is a software engineer by profession and a trained Classical Indian Dancer who teaches this to Kathak enthusiasts through the online medium. Arpita belongs to the beautiful village of Ekoxim, situated near Aldona, and she has done her primary and secondary education in Panaji. She had completed her Indian Classical Dance Visharad from Gandarva Mahavidyalaya and Parangat from the Kala Academy, Goa.
Aalthough Arpita’s schooling was completed in Panaji, she spent most of her childhood at Ecoxim. “I started my schooling at Mary Immaculate Girls High school and completed my 12th from Mushtifund Higher secondary school Goa. I have done my Bachelors of Engineering (BE) in the field of electronics and telecommunication (ETC) from GEC Farmagudi Goa and my Masters of Arts (MA) in kathak from Bharatiya Vidyapeeth, Pune. Apart from this I have also completed my Kathak Visharad from Gandarva from Mahavidyalaya and Parangat from the Kala Academy in Goa,” she said.
Arpita has been very fond of dancing right from a young age. “I used to participate in many dance competitions and have won many prizes,” she said adding that she was always fascinated by Indian classical dance forms and thus her parents decided to enroll her in the Indian classical dance class. “I started my dance journey when I was just 6 years old. Initially, in Bharatnatyam but later on at the age of 8, I joined Kala Academy for kathak classes as we shifted to Panjim,” said Arpita.
Arpita had spent countless years learning not just the physical movements but also the meaning behind the movements that define the dance style. “I never thought that I would be the first one to complete the Parangat diploma course in Kathak Dance Form at the age of 12 from Kala Academy,” she said adding that in 2008, she won first place in the All Goa classical dance competition held by Goa Art and Culture. “Being a science student, I tried to juggle between my dance and studies but never took a break from the dance class and still managed get 91% in her 10th. I was focused on both academics and dance since I really loved kathak. My teachers in Kala Academy – Smt Seema Khedekar and Smt Varada Phadke Bedekar taught me the foundations of kathak. It’s from there I decided that I wanted a career in this field.”
Arpita’s parents have always supported her at every stage because of which she could continue learning. “When I relocated to Pune after my BE for a placement at Wipro, I knew this was my calling: to learn from my mentor Guru Shama Bhate ji at Nadroop, Pune. I used to go at weekends for my classes and got a very new perspective about kathak and dance as a whole and that’s when I also did my Masters. To me, kathak is not just a dance form, it’s a way of self-expression and provides me with a space to let go off my worries. I’m my most confident when I dance and that keeps me motivated,” she said.
Just like every budding artist, Arpita had to also face challenges in her journey towards her passion. Arpita told us that when she was in the college, her love for this dance form grew but at the same time her confidence leaves started shaking due to the craze of western dance form growing in society. “I could not openly boast about my dance form thinking that my colleagues may not appreciate it because they were all into western dance. According to me Kathak was not recognised as a form of dance by the masses and that’s why I even hesitated to participate in any college events until my final year when I thought that I should stop being hesitant and start being confident. After surrounding myself with other dancers like me, especially in Pune I found the pride in my dance and I’m grateful of how far I have come as a dancer,” she said.
Arpita travelled to perform on many stages and shows in and even out of Goa. “I have performed in all dance festivals in Goa and many out of Goa, to name a few, Solapur Sidhivinayak temple festival in 2020, group choreography by Guru Shama Bhate, Anubhuti 2020 Pune, Mardol dance festival 2017, Aura dance festival in Aurangabad 2017, Nakshatra Utsav 2016 organised by Kala Academy, won the first place at youth festival state level in 2019 and many more,” she said.
Arpita has a plan of opening her own dance school in Goa. “I have a plan of opening a dance studio in Goa in the near future where I will train the Classical Dance enthusiasts in the Kathak dance Form. I also want to create the awareness of this dance form amongst people so that no one will say that this dance form is inferior to western dance forms. This form not only has rhythm, but many other aspects are involved. And I wish to promote the rich cultural heritage of Indian art,” she said.
Arpita feels that when anyone wants to start learning this dance form, he or she should go in to it with an open mind and never under estimate the Indian Classical dance forms. “You must learn with an open mind and never underestimate the power of learning anything new. Keep trying out new ways and be creative. Don’t lose hope if you are choosing performance as a career as the opportunities will definitely follow. Also, when you are learning from a teacher, surrender yourself to learn the artform and never doubt,” said Arpita.