Performing the Odissi dance may seem to be a routine cultural event in Orissa, but when the danseur on stage is Nityananda Das, the performance becomes special. That is because the indomitable Das performs the dance with only his left leg.
Das, 32, began dancing in 1991. He also dabbled in a bit of choreography in various Jatra theatres. Then in 2000, he met with an accident and lost his right leg. Those around him though it was the end of him. But the great dancer that he is, Das refused to let go of his beloved dance form.
“After my accident, I was admitted to a hospital in Cuttack. When I came to know I had lost a leg, I thought it was over. But hospital gave me the courage to start life afresh. There, I saw people who had lost both legs still trying to cope with the situation. I gathered mental strength just by looking at them,” he told HT.
Within a year, Das had gathered enough strength to resume his professional duties and once again began choreographing. “My first aim was to earn a living and survive, hence, choreography,” he explained.
But not being able to dance was torture. So, in 2003, he began practising. Gradually, he built up his strength on one leg. After many rehearsals, Das gave his first Odissi performance after the accident in May 2005. Today, he has founded the Kalashram, an Odissi dance academy, where he passes on his talent to others.