I’ve learnt to lead because I learnt to follow

Sanjeev Kumar Jena

As a kid my life revolved around music, painting, jatra dancing etc. I was so mad about dancing that once in an only girls competition , I registered as sanjeevani jena and danced. I Saw Odissi on TV in a reality show but found it very boring. When I saw it live for the first time, the music, the mardal sound, everything just stuck on to me and I found it to be a worship on stage. I found a way to learn odissi in another village only on sundays. I used to take my cycle 5 kms away, used to take a bus to Chandikhol 15 kms away and what not.

The problem arises when I wanted to make a career in this. Today I am here because of my science teacher who told us about Utkal Sangeet Mahavidyalaya. For entrance , my father travelled to villages to find a costume for me but it was so funny that I didn’t wear it. I gave my interview In jeans. I did chowka no. 2 and the interviewer said what's that chicken doing on stage. Everyone was laughing in the hall. I was the one to bag the last seat out of the 24.

My best friend used to come to Rudrakshya. I used to hear stories of Guruji’s compositions going all night, practice till late night. I never wanted to go to a place that gives my best friend dark circles. When I saw Taal Madhurya, it was a game changer for me. I used to pay Rs. 10 to Internet cafes every single day just to watch it. Nothing inspired me more than guruji’s concepts. Since I came here my dance definitely changed but my lifestyle changed in this gurukul where I got to know what being responsible is. Odissi is surrounded by so many misconceptions. In my village people even asked if I wore a blouse and danced.

Another misconception I feel is that Odissi needs to compromise itself according to the audience which is not how odissi started in its purest form. I understand not everyone is as lucky to be in a gurukul as I am. But to them I would only like to say that they should find the feeling of having a guru.

I always believe that if you want to lead one day, learn how to follow. The path you follow will help you create your own path one day.


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