Dynamic Duo Dipankar & Dipjyoti bring Sattriya on world stage; perform in London
There was a time when in the world of Indian classical dance dancing solo was extremely important. With as the times changed group dances started getting popular and dancing as a duo was always a privilege of couples. But, here we have a rarest of the rare combinations – two male dancers dancing one of the rare classical dance Sattriya. Dipankar and Dipjyoti are two dynamic young men who recently won the Bismillah Khan Award by the Sangeet Natak Akademy for their passion for Sattriya dance.
I had met this supremely talented duo over a decade ago when they were a contestant on one of the dance reality shows which I was judging. The day I saw them perform I knew that this Gen X dancers duo will soon take the essence and rich heritage of Sattriya dance to a brand new level. I spoke to them about their fascinating journey and struggles, excerpts from the interview:
Tell me a bit about both your dance training, how and where it all began?
We started out very young and our scenarios were quite different actually. Dipankar, hailing from Lakhimpur, was brought up in a culturally active family who encouraged his training in Sattriya from a tender age. Both of us started our official training in Sattriya under the expert guidance of our guru Bobby Rani Talukdar and Dolly Rani Talukdar, when we started going to college. We further fine-tuned our skills when we started learning under Guru Ramkrishna Talukdar who is a Sangeet Natak Akademi awardee for our advance training.
How and why did you decide to dance as a pair?
Ever since we were college mates, our energies synced and we kind of delved into this partnership without realising. This synergy of ours was noticed by our mentor Ramkrishna Talukdar Sir and it was he who made our duo official. In the world of dance, it is difficult to find a duo who match each other and we are thankful to our guru and to each other that we could discover this combination and more importantly keep it alive for so many years.
How difficult has it been to learn and popularise a dance like Sattriya?
Learning wasn’t a big issue as we had full support of our family and of our gurus, yes more difficult was popularising the dance form. Before the burst of social media, we had to struggle a lot to introduce ourselves to people, but gladly, today we have the weapon of social media which gives us a golden opportunity to connect with the world audience at the click of our fingers. Although we still hope our state and national governments take more initiative towards our beautiful art form and work towards its upliftment.
How does it feel getting the Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar by Sangeet Natak Akademy (SNA)?
Oh yes, it definitely feels like a dream come true. We have worked day in and day out on our art of Sattriya, after working so hard for all these years and now to be noticed by such dignitaries, it is a surreal feeling. We are forever obliged to all of our supporters for their constant love and blessings without which we could never have achieved this nor reach so far in our dancing journey.
How challenging is it to dance as a duo, what is the positive and negative side of the same?
It hasn’t always been bees and butterflies, there have been many instances where we would be at each other’s throats when a sequence wouldn’t come out the way one of us wanted. But all things aside, we believe that we really complement each other. We both know our strengths and feed on the other’s weaknesses to make us, as a duo stronger. Over the years, we have successfully meandered through the sharp turns of life together and now we are quite settled where we stand, as individuals, as well as duet performers.
Out of all the shows you have performed for which has been the most memorable and why?
Oh! there have been shows many that are close to our heart. Performing in Khajuraho was always in our bucket list, while dancing, we could feel the energies of the great souls that set their feet on the stage. It was an experience of a lifetime. Then there was time when we got to present Sattriya on a reality show for the first time ever in the history of the dance form. We were in our early 20s, complete amateurs in this multi-faceted industry and the family of Bharat ki Shaan Rum-Jhum, and the sheer guidance and encouragement of Dr Sonal Mansingh Ji, played an immense role in the upliftment of our careers. This was the dame show sir which you were also a jury on. Then comes our very recent performance at the Nehru Centre, London checks a box off our bucket list as well. It was our first international dance tour towards the west and the response by people who were complete strangers to Sattriya culture was quite overwhelming.
Sandip Soparrkar holds a doctorate in world mythology folklore from Pacific University USA, an honorary doctorate in performing arts from the National American University, He is a World Book Record holder, a well-known Ballroom dancer and a Bollywood choreographer who has been honored with three National Excellence awards, one National Achievement Award and Dada Saheb Phalke award by the Government of India. He can be contacted on [email protected]