I have danced since my childhood but belly dancing just happened after I came to Bangalore. My Maa tells me that when I was a kid I used to stand in front of her dressing table and start dancing to random songs. Around that time, I started receiving formal training in Bihu when I was 7 years old. And it's been 20 years now and I am still dancing.
Coming from a typical Bengali-Assamese background, education is of utmost priority in my family; dance, music are all extra-curricular and only considered as icing on the cake. I was destined to become a Chemical Engineer and work in some top-notch oil refinery company, I never thought dancing would become my career from my hobby. I came to Bangalore in 2015 after campus placement alongside preparing for ONGC exams. The same year I joined Nivetha Shree’s and Payal’s Dance Academy Bellydance classes casually to experience something new. But that one decision transformed my whole outlook about belly dancing, I started getting to know that belly dancing is not only about Shakira.
I started training under Shruti Narayanan for thorough knowledge about the history of the dance form and I am grateful that I became a part of her dance productions. The turning point came when I decided to quit my job and pursue dance seriously. I started cross-training in Salsa, Bachata, Movement improvisation, Kathak and seizing all the opportunities to learn Middle eastern and oriental dance forms from International instructors who visited India but mostly online classes. I quit my job finally in 2018 to pursue a career in full-time dancing.
The decision wasn’t an easy one as it comes along with a bag of struggles. Struggle to set up the base as an artist, monetary struggles and family pressure to continue my well-paid job as there is no financial security for an artist plus the art form which I decided to pursue has its own set of societal taboos associated with it. But struggles are part and parcel of life, it had to happen. Things happened slowly, and I started getting opportunities to perform in events.
The next best decision was to join Debapriya Das and Nrityakosh for she has mentored me as an instructor, a guide and a friend to bring out the better version in me. The thing I admire about her is that she constantly inspires me to push my limits and break the barriers. Thanks to her, I started practising Yoga, slowly but steadily. And I’ll be forever grateful to her for giving me the opportunity to teach as a Bellydance instructor in Nrityakosh. I am also thankful that I got to learn from Raissa Lei, Sadie Marquardt, Anasma and Datura online instructors viz. Zoe Jakes, Colleena Shakti, Sedona Soulfire.
At times I did feel like going back to my routine life with a secured job and less pressure but my willpower was stronger I guess. Besides, dance has given me a lot, it took me places to learn, perform and travel, this art also instilled in me a sense of patience and spirituality in the process. In August 2018, I established Mika’s Dance Project which provides Freestyle and Bollywood classes for children and Bellydance along with Dance fitness classes for adults. Besides that, I am also a part of Debapriya Das’s Nrityakosh Dance Troupe. I have some bigger plans about MDP but, touch wood, will reveal only after its completion.
What I learnt from the great dancers in history is that learning and experiences should never stop and one lifetime is not enough to gain all the knowledge of even one single artform. It is a never-ending journey to be the best version of oneself. To be a good teacher, one needs to build a strong knowledge base because one imparts what one acquires. So for me, the journey will inevitably continue!