Dancing is like oxygen to me. It sets me free. About 24 yrs ago, I got into the art of learning classical dance & to this day, I am a trained Odissi dancer. I am fortunate enough to represent my state Odisha & my country India in many dance platforms worldwide. I am glad when the audience loves my dance & connects to it. Their applause motivates me to go on and on.
Early Life & Family:
My journey started, when near my house, one renowned lady Guru Prativa Panda used to teach dance & I, who was barely around 4-5 yrs old been an active onlooker. One would always find me there but nowhere. My interest was recognized by the Guru who, then asked my parents to enrol me. Later, I learned the intricacies and techniques of Odissi under the tutelage of Guru Gouri Shankar Tripathy and Guru Gajendra Kumar Panda.
Not to forget, my parents, Sri Giridhari Lal Agrawalla and Smt. Nirupama Agrawalla were my utmost pillars of strength and encouragement throughout my career as a dancer till date and contributed to a great extent towards my goal. With their support, I was able to find a balance between academics and passion with ease.
My list of struggles is a bit long when it came to learning dancing. For about ten years during the start, I was craving for growth & to learn the art more properly. But money constraints, distance, etc. obstructed me to move ahead where I could expertise my knowledge of the art. Although much time got wasted, somehow after many ups & down I completed Sangeet Bhusan [Part 5] from Pracheen Kala Kendra, Chandigarh and Visharad Pratham from Akhil Bharatiya Gandharva Mahavidyalaya, Mumbai.
Path breakers were always there in between. Outdoor performances required frequent travelling, sometimes at regular intervals. So, being a good student, it was challenging for me to pursue my passion along with studies, mostly in senior years. Odissi requires heavy makeup; hence there have been times where the troupe decided not to remove makeup for days & we used to sleep with that. Being a right fit also, many times, I was not being offered the lead or just asked to fill in. It led me to question myself that I do not deserve enough. But favouritisms in the industry couldn’t stop me. Money has always been an obstacle, whether to learn a new dance style or while changing institutes. Some institutes asked me to start again from scratch as their style of teaching dance was different to complete the dance exam that happens only once a year. Due to all these, few times, I almost gave up dancing, but fought back my depression & kept my focus alive in achieving my dreams.
Currently, I am working as a Key Accounts Manager in Zomato, Bhubaneswar. In my free time, I practice Odissi & performs, as well as participate in various events. I like to teach dance on weekends too. Presently, three students come over every Sunday. Even in lockdown 2020, I kept on nurturing my dance styles through self-learning via YouTube videos. A most recent achievement was grabbing 2nd position in International Online Mega Classical Dance Festival “Nritya Apsara 2020”, leaving behind 112 international/national artists.
I have studied B.Com from Ramadevi College, Bhubaneswar. Besides holding an MBA degree majoring in Marketing from XIME Bengaluru, I was also the president of Cultural Society. I got to represent my college in prestigious international conferences such as International Students Meet, International HR Meet. I represented India in the Students BRICS Meet as well. I have also performed in the International Delegates conference meet @ ICCR Bhawan.
Apart from performances, I also conduct dance workshops across India in different MBA and Junior colleges. I was thrilled to be among the top 5 participants in the International College Mega Dance festival organized by IIM, Bangalore.
Earlier, I have worked with Doordarshan Odia where I got to produce some great dramas such as Nabakalebar, Sabitri Satyavan Katha, Kantha Kahe Kahani and Raja Dani Karna and a classical performance on Chousathi Yogini. I also collaborated with ZEE TV for promotion of Odisha Tourism, being a lead dancer.
I had a beautiful experience while performing in Malaysia, Europe and California & got a chance to contribute to spreading this art form worldwide. In India, I have performed at prestigious festivals like the Mukteswar Festival, Gopalpur Beach Festival, Chakradhar Samharoh, Chausathi Yogini Mohatsav, Debasmruti- An evening of Odissi Dancers, Baisakhi Dance festival and National Kharbela Festival and Barsha Festival.
Finally, yet importantly, I am blessed to perpetuate and sustain the memory of the dance as envisioned by the original masters of the dance - Late Guru Debaprasad Das and Guru Gajendra Kumar Panda. With their blessings, I vow to continue entertaining & keep my dance alive.