JUGGLING AND EXCELLING
It doesn’t matter too much that how many roles you take up in your life, but how well you play your parts. Very few are the people who give their cent percent in whatever they do and showcase the best out of them. Chennai-based Bharatanatyam dancer, journalist and presenter Jagyaseni Chatterjee is among the few people who always strive to give their best be it on stage or writing for newspapers. It is very interesting that how things began for her some years ago.
Jagyaseni was born to a Bengali couple based in Kolkata. Just like any other child, she was exposed to all sorts of extracurricular activities like painting, Rabindra Sangeet, badminton and swimming. But the young girl settled on dance. “It was dance that I didn’t quit and somehow it became a natural part of my daily life. Be it exams or any festival, dance classes gained priority”, she says. Today Jagyaseni is a graded Bharatanatyam artiste of Doordarshan and presently pursuing M.Phil in the Indian Music Department, University of Madras. She divides her time between dance and writing for various media houses.
At the tender age of five, Jagyaseni started learning Bharatanatyam. “During my graduation in geography from the prestigious Loreto College, I did my Arangetram under Kalamandalam Venkitt and Preetha Venkitt and went on to doing MSc in Human Rights from Calcutta University”, she says. It was then she moved to Chennai to advance her learning because Chennai is the place if one wants to make a mark in dance. But all the waiting and toiling finally paid when she met Dr Lakshmi Ramaswamy at Madras University. “One day she came and asked me, “I have a Friday kids class, would you mind coming and opening the door on time because the teacher comes from a distance and the students wait outside.” I agreed as my evenings were free after the university classes. The environment of dance was so luring that within a week I asked her if I could learn from her. The door opening duty landed up opening a whole new road for me and I became a student of Sri Mudhraalaya. Dance now has a completely different perspective. It is not about moving your body in rhythm, it is about creating an impact, in others and your life”, she says.
But how did she take up writing? “It was more a necessity to meet my expenses in Chennai while continuing with my dance learning. So I started with being a food critic for neighborhood newspaper, and then took up a job in an English monthly magazine in Chennai and then joined a reputed media house as a sub editor”, she says. Jagyaseni agrees that her prime interest was suffering because of it. “I quit my job and started freelancing. Yes, managing the stress of both careers becomes difficult and stressful at times, but all the stress vanishes when I have a cup of filtered coffee made by my teacher. I have even finished articles sitting in the make up room or during rehearsals. Jokes apart, there is nothing more satisfying than finding each day taking you one step forward. My writing enables me to meet new people, visit places and dance gives me a roller coaster ride every moment. What else can be more enterprising than having a life full of ever new surprises and challenges”, she says.
Meanwhile something strange was taking shape in her. She always likes to spend time with kids. “So when my teacher gave me the opportunity to take classes for children as part of my own learning module, I was thrilled. Many a times I have learnt through the questions the kids ask. It feels great when children look up to you, the responsibility becomes more. Responsibility not just as a dance instructor, but also for their overall development. Moreover their selfless affection is a fantastic stress buster”, she adds.
Jagyaseni has a busy schedule ahead. “Come January I am performing for Krishna Gana Sabha, a dream platform for all budding dancers. I owe it all to my teacher who is a researcher, dancer, teacher, choreographer and is my inspiration and idol” says the 29-year-old who recently received Tarang Padma title.
The writer is a freelance art critic