Our mission is to provide a nurturing environment for students to explore, learn, and excel in the realms of Kathak dance and classical music.
Strings N Steps
New Delhi, India
Sangeeta, tell us about your journey into the world of Kathak. Being the first in your family to pursue dance, how did it all begin?
It’s been quite a ride! Growing up in Kolkata, the cultural hub, I was always surrounded by the arts. But Kathak wasn’t an obvious choice initially. It all started when I stepped into the renowned Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra in New Delhi. I had the honour of refining my skills under the mentorship of Pandit Ram Mohan Maharaj. Further enriching my artistic tapestry, I joined Kalashram, Pandit Birju Maharaj’s academy in Delhi. That time Guru-Shishya tradition there is like a living, breathing legacy. Pandit Deepak Maharaj became my guiding force, and the rhythm of Kathak just synced with something deep inside. These experiences laid a profound foundation for my artistic expression.
Also, I have received blessings and guidance from many Gurus in Kathak.
What was the reaction of your family when you decided to make your professional career as a kathak artist?
Oh, it was a mix of emotions! Initially, there was a bit of surprise and maybe a touch of concern. You know, the typical parental worry about stability and all. But as they saw my passion and dedication, they became my biggest supporters. By the way, I credit a big part of that to my mother. She’s a singer, and I grew up watching her own the stage with grace and confidence. It’s like I absorbed her stage presence by osmosis. I never really experienced stage fear because, for me, the stage feels like home. I guess being surrounded by music and performance from a young age creates a kind of comfort zone that stays with you. It’s where I feel the most alive and connected.
Forging a unique path in the enchanting realm of arts, I embraced the challenges of being an outsider in the Kathak Field and being the first professional artist in my family with ease through hard work, education, and unwavering determination. I overcame the struggle, leaving a distinct mark in the classical symphony.
What are your priorities for “Strings N Steps” as a General Secretary of this academy?
As the General Secretary of “Strings N Steps” Academy, my top priorities are to foster a dynamic learning environment for Indian classical dance and music. I aim to expand our educational outreach through strategic collaborations with renowned institutes, ensuring a platform for students to explore their artistic potential. Additionally, my focus includes organizing impactful festivals and events that celebrate the rich cultural tapestry of Kathak and further establish “Strings N Steps” as a hub for the promotion and preservation of our traditional arts.
Please tell us about your success story from initial performances to becoming a successful international kathak artist.
Absolutely! it’s been a remarkable journey. It all began with my early performances in India, where I had the privilege to participate in prestigious events like the Baba Allaudin Sangeet Samaroh in Maihar, Noida Shilpotsav, and various festivals organized by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR). These experiences laid the foundation for my career, allowing me to showcase my dedication to the art of Kathak.
As I delved into choreography with projects like ‘Strings N Steps’ and ‘Echoing Shadows,’ blending Kathak with diverse forms like Hawaiian Guitar and poetry, I found a unique voice in the dance world. The presentation of Rabindranath Tagore’s ‘Bhanushingher Nayika’ across Spain, London, and Germany further expanded my horizons.
International stages became the canvas for my artistry. Performances at the Manuel Belgrano Auditorium in Argentina, the Ministry of Culture, Sport, and Education events in Resistencia, and captivating audiences in Mendoza, Buenos Aires, Berlin, Hungary, Romania, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Spain, Slovakia, France, Switzerland, Vietnam, and the United Arab Emirates were transformative experiences.
The journey wasn’t without challenges, but every performance, whether at prestigious venues or local festivals, contributed to my growth. Special moments like celebrating the 150th Birth Anniversary of Sri Aurobindo at Aurobindo Ashram, New Delhi, and being part of the 250th Birth Anniversary of Raja Rammohan Roy at Sriram Centre added depth to my artistic exploration.
Moreover, being associated with institutions like Saaz-O-Awaaz in Brampton, Canada, Kala Sangam in Kolkata, and UMAK Institute for Performing Arts has allowed me to share my knowledge and passion for Kathak on an educational platform.
pursuing educational opportunities, and showcasing their talent through various platforms can help women overcome obstacles and carve out a path to success in these fields.
What are your expectations from the government’s cultural department for the promotion of Kathak dance in national and international scenario?
I expect the government’s cultural department to play a pivotal role in promoting Kathak dance nationally and internationally by providing financial support, organizing cultural exchange programs, and creating platforms for artists. Increased funding, collaborative initiatives, and global representation can significantly contribute to the preservation and global recognition of Kathak as a cultural treasure.
What are your compliments for your co-Founder Neel Ranjan?
I extend my heartfelt compliments to my co-founder, Neel Ranjan, whose expertise in Hawaiian Guitar has been instrumental in our collaborative venture, “Strings N Steps.” Since we began working together in 2011, Neel’s musical prowess has added a unique dimension to our artistic fusion, enriching the experience for both performers and audiences alike. His dedication and collaborative spirit have been invaluable, and I appreciate his steadfast contributions to our shared vision of creating a harmonious blend of Kathak dance and music.
Sangeeta is introvert or extrovert by nature. Which colour you like the most?
I think, balancing both aspects allows me to thrive both artistically and personally. Being a soloist on stage and practicing by myself, I find immense joy in my own company. There’s something deeply introspective and fulfilling about those moments of solitude. However, I equally cherish the opportunity to meet friends and indulge in some downtime for recharging. Social interactions and shared moments add a different kind of energy and inspiration to my life.
There are certain criticisms also in creative fields. How do you accept/react criticism for your performances?
I view criticism as a valuable tool for growth. While I have faced some brutal critiques, I genuinely appreciate constructive feedback. It’s like a secret ingredient that spices up our artistic journey, inspiring everyone involved. Turning criticism into a fun challenge keeps the creative spirit alive and motivates continuous improvement.
You are proffessor of kathak, teaching kathak to world wide students. What are your expectations from your students. What is your message for them?
Dear students, remember, in Kathak, even your mistakes have a rhythm. So, if you stumble, just call it a surprise solo and keep dancing like no one can tell the difference!
You have won various prestigious awards in the field of dance and music. How significant are these awards for you?
While I appreciate the recognition through various prestigious awards in dance and music, for me, the true significance lies in the journey, the continuous pursuit of excellence, and the joy of sharing my art with the world. Awards are like beautiful milestones along the path, but the real treasure is the passion and connection cultivated through the art itself.
You are always fit and energetic. What is the reason behind your tremendous energy?
My secret to boundless energy? Well, it’s a dance between passion, good vibes, and maybe a touch of caffeine – the perfect rhythm to keep the energy levels soaring!