I remember the first time I saw Gangi dance Odissi. I was stunned. Star-struck. And at that time, I was a ruthless critic, quick to focus on the weakness of a performer and swift to judge their ability as a dancer. I know most dancers do this. And I do think that there is a way to look at someone’s dance and make an immediate assessment. Over the past few years, however, I’ve softened. Now I prefer to notice the beauty a person creates, their sincerity, their love for the art. Dance for me is about much more than being good or excellent; it goes deeper than that. The value it can create in a persons life is unrelated to his/her actual skill-level. So I’m much less interested in critical assessments of dancers. I want to encourage those who love dance to dance.
When I first saw Gangi dance Odissi though, I was not in this softened place. It was indeed with a real critical eye that I concluded that she’s got real talent. I was fascinated by the way Odissi flowed through her so gracefully, so much more so than Bharata Natyam which she’d also studied.
This assessment of mine was in 2008. Since then Gangi has pursued Odissi in many ways. She went to Bhubaneswar in India to study with Sujata Mohapatra, and now she’s preparing for her Manch Pravesh – the official solo Odissi debut – under the guidance of Swathi Mahalakshmi. And the date for her Manch Pravesh is finally finalized for December 1, 2012. After much back and forth, we settled on doing it close to home at the Hippodrome in Gainesville, FL instead of India. All of us in her family are super excited about this day, and we are supporting her in different ways. Her brother and sister, for example, are using their skills to accompany her with live instrumentation.
Here is a sneak-peak into her “classroom”:
A small sample of her dancing: