Passion and perseverance is all that it takes to achieve what you want. For 21-year-old Simarpreet Singh Sokhi from Kalka, it was sheer passion and love for the Indian classical dance that drove a Sikh gentleman to fight all odds to dream of a career as a Bharatanatyam dancer.
FASCINATION WITH CLASSICAL DANCE
“I got fascinated towards classical dance since a young age. It was the depth in the classical dance forms that attracted me,” said an elated Simarpreet, who gave his debut performance at Punjab Kala Bhawan on Saturday. But,it was only at the age of 14 that he decided to get formal training in Kathak at school.
“I was the only boy, that too Sikh, who took up learning Kathak at school. Nobody in my family, except my mother knew that I was learning dance. People used to laugh and make fun of me but that didn't lessen my love for the dance form that had fascinated me so much,” he said. Despite numerous obstacles, it was the support from his family, especially his mother, that he went to Kalakshetra Foundation in Chennai to pursue a diploma in Bharatanatyam after he finished school. But, most importantly, it was his Kathak teacher Raj Mohan’s encouragement that motivated him to take his talent forward. The young pupil honoured his teacher as well at the event.
NOT AN EASY JOURNEY
But, it was not an easy journey for Simarpreet. “People questioned me that being a bearded Sikh male how will you perform abhinaya. In fact, I am performing Varnam (central piece of Bharatanatyam repertoire) today, a naika Bhava that involves a lot of Abhinaya,” he said.Not only this, there were others who asked the performer to rethink his decision as classical dance forms made men look feminine.“People have given me all sorts of reasons. Few said that men don’t take up classical dancing as a profession as it makes you feminine,” he said, adding, “Such condemnation didn’t deter my spirit, instead, acted as a catalyst to pursue my dream with all my heart.”
When asked what he plans to do in the future, Sokhi said, “I plan to learn more about the dance form and complete a degree from Delhi.” “I have met a lot of people in the North who wish to learn classical dance forms. My dream is to open dance institutes in Punjab and Haryana,” he added.