A staunch believer of the dictum, “Dance is the language of expressions”, the great Indian origin dancer, Devanshi Mishra has been a source of inspiration to many. She is a recipient of the honorable Governor Award for her notable contribution in the field of dance. At the age of 3, she commenced her training in Kathak and till this time she has inherited the knowledge and skills of a myriad of dance forms. Devanshi completed her higher studies from University of Iowa, USA and currently resides in Chandigarh, managing a dance institute named, Oorja.
Q. Do you believe that dance surpasses the boundaries of gender and age? Do you really feel that anybody can dance? Being a mentor, how do you make this happen?
A. That is my exact philosophy, dance is a way of life. It teaches you discipline, how to work within large groups, self-confidence and just attaining that feeling of accomplishing something. I have seen the so-called boundaries dissolve in a matter of moments.
As a mentor, I let dancers or artists understand that the learning never stops. Dance is not something that ends when you are done learning a routine. Neither is it something you can grasp in N number of classes. Growth is ongoing, and the age or gender doesn’t really matter.
Q. You have scored highest achievements in the field of dancing. Being an Indian woman, do you think dance could be a contrivance to women empowerment in India?
A. Undeniably. Dance or the arts, in general, is a medium for our inner expression. We see many female artists nowadays killing it with they’re ‘out there’ and unconventional art, breaking stereotypes and societal norms.
Being one of the very few ‘females’ studio owners and underground battle organizers, I get subtle reminders all the time that this line of work is one which is male dominated but all the more, it gives me a reason to prove my point.
Q. The majority of Indian parents are of the view that academics are everything and pursuing your passion will land your future in `hot water’. How can dance help in putting a halt to the same?
A. Without any second thought, academics are the backbone of this society but having studied abroad I can personally guarantee that kids who are only focused on academics find it hard to cope up with the ones who also pursue their hobbies or/and passions.
I did not get accepted into a University in America because my grades were great, but instead because I was someone who went above and beyond with my extra-curricular.
Dance is something which is basically in every Indian’s blood. And like I mentioned before, dance brings about positive change in your personality and confidence level. Parents are concerned with their kids not getting out of the house or gaining weight or as a matter of fact too much energy; all that is channeled through in a dance class. It’s a solution to all the negatives with added fun.
Q. Your life sounds like a tale of immense toil and hard work and your achievements provide testimony to it. How has your journey been with dance? Please reflect upon your evolution as a better person to make a difference?
A. Dance for first was my hobby and somewhere between primary to high school, it transitioned into my passion which in turn was then decided upon as my profession when it was time for college.
I grew up training in Kathak but in order to be different, I had to train differently. At the University of Iowa, I trained for 4 years in Ballet and Modern Dance.
Along with dance production, running stage crew, choreographing, performing, dance history and society and not to miss kinesiology; but while at college, working at a job, studying and leading an all-girls dance team I felt the need to do more. Leaning towards my commerce background, I decided to also attain a certificate in entrepreneurship for performing arts focused on setting up and running a business in this line of work.
Studying abroad changed me and my perception of the real world inside out for the better, of course. How to move around a space without your parent’s protective bubble. How to adjust to a new culture and learn their ways of engaging. More importantly unlearning how to dance just to learn it all over again just in a different way.
All in all, it was a major reality check where my standing as a well-known dancer in North India was put to question and I had to start from zero all over again, which was hard at the beginning but exactly what my body and mind needed to make the transition.
Q. Who/what is your inspiration in the field of dance?
A. I really don’t have a single point of inspiration. We are ever evolving and my personal philosophy is that the only constant in your life changes. I try and draw inspiration from everything and everyone who shows different colors than the one we normally see or maybe just choose to overlook. What’s on the inside is what’s the real mystery and the source of all inspiration.
Q. You are the inheritor of several dance forms. Which one is your favorite and what’s its future in India?
A. My dancing would not be what it is today if there was only just one favorite. All dance forms are amazing in their own way and there is so much to learn from each of them. In my personal opinion, dance in India is just beginning on its way up. We see a multitude of artists learning, performing and competing in global dance forms.
But we do need to find a way back to our roots. Yes, we are following up on the trends set by the Western culture and dance is a universal language but I feel that having the basic training in at least one of the many classical dance forms our country has is a must for dancers. We are the generation who takes it forward. It’s our responsibility, so let’s not lose the flavor.
Devanshi Mishra is indeed a live example of pursuing your passion & doing what your heart says, and needless to say, dancers don’t need wings to fly!
About the Author:
A gregarious man with diverse academic exposure studied in India and abroad. A Professional guitarist and just love music and good food. Writing is my strength it is my own voice reaching out to the masses to make a difference.