Dance : The Passion of my life-Tanusree Shankar

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Photos: Jayanta Bandyopadhyay

By Sanchali Basu

HOUSTON: On talking to Tanusree Shankar, one would not know the Indian dance royalty that she belongs to. Although hailing from the family of the late Uday Shankar, Ananda Shankar and Ravi Shankar, her modesty and humility are indeed striking. She carries herself with such poise and graciousness, that one and all are immediately charmed by her personality.

It is no surprise that that the group of dancers learning the choreography for the North American Bengali Conference opening ceremony in Houston absolutely dote on her. The conference to be held from July 10-12 at the George Brown Convention Center will feature artists, singers, dancers, actors form movies and the stage, literary figures, medical professionals, artisans, vendors, spiritual motivators, Ayurvedic and Yoga experts, business enthusiasts from all over the world. They will all congregate in the Space City for those 3 days to reconnect with the homeland (Bengal and India) and celebrate the heritage. It is hoped that it will bring value to donors and sponsors from the US, India and beyond to contribute something concrete to the global community and Bengal– thus realizing the goal and potential of the global platform of the conference.

Tanusree in association with Debojyoti Mishra have taken on the monumental responsibility of coordinating the audiovisual extravaganza of the opening ceremony involving 80 or more artists from Houston and Kolkata. Tanusree has brought 7 professional seasoned dancers from her troupe Krishna, Debjit, Surojit, Gobinda, Indranil, Arnab and Kunal to train the local dance enthusiasts.

The rehearsals begin with a rigorous but fulfilling warm up everyday and the routine is different every time (you can see a small video clip of it in the online newspaper version). The importance given to detailing and isolating every part of the body is commendable and the dance style is unique in its own right. Every dance movement is so graceful, and her belief in the philosophy, “Practice makes perfect” makes every student go that extra mile.

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All the dances are group dances and she stresses on the team work and right positioning, to make the beautiful flowing choreography work. The dancers who are from all different backgrounds of dance styles at different levels of expertise have all been assigned dances based on their capabilities and everyone is enjoying dancing and training under her.

This is Tanusree’s third NABC involvement in the last 4 years and she is thoroughly enjoying the experience of co-partnering with Debojyoti. She has taken a month off to spend time here in Houston totally dedicating herself and her dance troupe to the successful production of the opening ceremony. It will portray all the different influences that played a part in evolving the music of Bengal and will include all genres of music. It will be a balanced amalgamation of dances songs, skits and recitations.

In a quiet moment with Tanusree, I could not but be captivated by her grace, passion and dedication towards dance. It almost felt like dance oozes out of her every pore. She has given her life to dance and her Tanushree Shankar Dance Company is one of the leading exponents of contemporary dance forms in India. She has developed her own “Shankar technique of new dance,” which is Indian in origin and spirit, modern in presentation, universal and timeless in appeal.
Houstonians are indeed lucky to have her in their midst.

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