Shalini’s Rangapravesh – A Shining Exhibition of Grace and Dedication

Shalini Das

Shalini Das

By Partha S Chatterjee
HOUSTON: June 14, was an evening to remember, where Shalini Das, daughter of Tapan and Mou Das and disciple of Smt. Supradipta Datta performed her Odissi Ranga Pravesh. It was the sheer repertoire of top class dance presented after nine years of training that impressed the audience to no end. Shalini is only fourteen, yet her performance was befitting of much older exponents.

Shalini started with Ganesh Vandana, where she offered salutations to Lord Ganesha, seeking His blessings. Then, she moved onto Mangalacharan. Here she exhibited a wide array of complex footwork pattern in Odissi style. In Aravi Pallavi, she demonstrated her agility through complex patterns of diverse and intense rhythmic variations. Her expressions in Srita Kamala along with her finely balanced poses and lyrical dancing in Nritya Bilas left the audience speechless. It was a fascinating combination of sculpturesque postures with swift and precise footwork resulting in a spectacular feast for the eyes. She followed it with Mahavidya – incarnations of Shakti, in which she stunned the audience by transforming from a girl to the powerful goddess Kali.

Shalini then reverted to the famous Tagore song “Mor Bhabonare” which describes the longing of a lonely heart, swayed to a delightful thrill by dark dense clouds. What an energetic presentation by Shalini, electrifying the crowd!

Next, Shalini performed Dasavatar – ten incranations of the Lord Vishnu. Her graceful blend from one avatar to the next along with her unwavering balance in poses made for an enthralling composition. In Mokshya Mangalam, Shalini performed this lively and fitting finale to her performance – a dance abounding in various intricate patterns of foot movements and hand gestures.

There were many honorable guests who attended the performance and were greatly impressed by Shalini’s dance. Among them were Dr. Rathna Kumar, Pt. Suman Ghosh, and Smt. Indrani Parthasarathi. Dr. Kumar spoke at the ceremony highly of her poise, natural grace, and sublime expressions.

Guru Supradipta Datta showcased the superlative quality of a dance teacher of the absolute top grade. Smt. Datta, one of Smt. Aloka Kanungo’s senior most students, herself earned the rare distinction of completing her Sangeet Kriya Visharad in both Oddisi and Bharatnatyam with top honors. Beyond this she has won many awards and is the founder of the first Odissi dance school in Houston, Kalaangan. Her patience, her guidance and her words of encouragement have no doubt brought the best out of Shalini. The transformation she has helped engineer was highlighted for everyone to see.

What really shone throughout te evening was the dedication and commitment Shalini had and the outstanding talent she nurtured, at such a young age. Shalini’s performance and most importantly, the years of training behind the performance exemplified the fantastic human being she is. Each of her dances were breath-taking; her expressions very emotive; her footwork nimble and synchronized with the music and finally, each of the dance forms and subtlest of traits was classic. The evening’s performance was emceed by Rukmini Das with much grace and poise.

Shalini serves as a beacon of light for other Indian-American children to follow – where they not only learn the Indian arts and culture but most importantly, they become global citizens, tethered to strong moral values and tradition while growing up in America. Through her performance that evening, Shalini made not only her family and Guru, but also the entire community very proud.