Odissi Student Recital 2021 オディッシィダンス発表会2021

Some of you already know that I dance, perform, and teach a classical Indian dance called Odissi. 

I met my dance teacher, Sarala Dandekar, in 2005 here on Maui, and my journey to learn Odissi began.

I had no idea that I would meet a classical Indian dance in Hawaii, but by the grace of the universe, I did, and I fell in love with it.

In 2012, I had my debut ceremony called Manchapravesha. The following year, I flew to India to study with my teacher's teacher, Guru Jhelum Paranjape of Mumbai. At that time, I saw her perform, and something profound touched me, and my inner voice said, "This, this, this is what my soul wants to study."

When I returned to Maui, I seriously contemplated and asked myself what I would do if I had only 2 or 3 more years to live. My answer was, "I’d prioritize dancing Odissi." So, the following year, I left my full-time schoolteacher position. Since then, I've been running my translation and tutoring business to make ends meet. I still get to work with children through tutoring, which I love, and having my own business allows me to have more freedom to dedicate myself to Odissi.

In 2016, I started teaching Odissi with my teachers' blessings. Ever since, I have been grateful to learn Odissi even more through the experience of teaching. Another teacher of mine, Guru Vishnu Tattva Das of San Francisco, who is like a dance brother to my teacher, Sarala, sent me a message one day, "When you teach, you complete the circle and give back to dance. Keep it up." Again, something touched my heart deeply and overwhelmed me with appreciation.

Once a year, I hold a dance recital to stimulate students' growth and give them a platform to share their hard work with their loved ones.

We had to miss one during 2020, and in 2021, it was still tricky to hold an in-person recital, so we decided to do a video recital instead. We shot it in December, and I just finished editing it!

My maternal grandfather was a bamboo weaving artist in Japan. He said, "Art is not necessary to sustain physical lives. During economic hardships, we need to buy food first, and artists may not earn money, but we need to keep creating and honing our skills, especially during such times because art sustains the human spirit." I took his words to heart, and my students and I have continued to show up in person or over Zoom for our weekly classes throughout this pandemic.

I've had the honor of witnessing them shedding tears in class with all sorts of sentiments - from being frustrated with themselves to the feeling of accomplishment. No matter what, they kept showing up.

And there they were - celebrating their milestones. For my beginner students, this was their very first performance. For my pre-intermediate students, this was their first time to perform in full costume.

As it will be the case for even advanced dancers, there are techniques to be polished and room to grow, but their hearts are shining and in the right place. When I watch them dance, my eyes narrow in arches, and I can’t help but smile. I know how hard they've worked, so seeing them dance with such sincerity touches me deeply and humbles me.

If you are curious to watch this video recital or its photos, please visit https://akaridance.com/performances/odissi-student-recital-2021/.

You can listen to this article's podcast episode at the following link. The episode number is #6.