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Just 5yr old Shrinika Purohit Know as Wonder Kids of #Odissi #Odisha 

December 22, 2013. The stage was set in Bhubaneswar for the special closing ceremony of Odissi International, the third annual union of the global Odissi family featuring dancers and delegates from 15 countries. The auditorium was over-crowded as it was a special treat for one and all – Minati Mishra, world’s oldest Odissi performer from Switzerland was to perform followed by internationally acclaimed stars like Aruna Mohanty, Sujata Mohapatra, Meera Das, Rahul Acharya and Lingaraj Pradhan.

Just 5yr old Shrinika Purohit Know as Wonder Kids of #Odissi #Odisha eodisha.org

However, as the stage was illuminated, the audience saw a three year old kid in Odissi attire, looking like a big doll, being brought onto the stage by her mother. And before anyone could guess anything, the kid danced into the hearts of the audience receiving a standing ovation. Watching this youngest Odissi dancer of the world, the oldest remarked, “She is God’s gift to Odissi”. She was Shrinika Purohit from Bengaluru, aptly billed as the “wonder kid of Odissi”.

Ever since, Shrinika has been in big demand from festival organisers, connoisseurs, media and photographers. A crowd puller, she has been a regular feature in several major dance events held in her parents’ home state of Odisha and Bengaluru, where the kid was born. She had the honour of being the opening performer of the India International Dance Festival held in Bhubaneswar last year.

photo by Augustus binu
photo by Augustus binu

It appears as if her mother’s deep desire to be a dancer was ingrained in the baby. “I was quite keen to continue my career as an Odissi dancer along with my academics. But, my father’s frequent transfers and my higher studies outside Odisha (she worked as a junior scientist in Lucknow for two years) prevented me from continuing. Finally, it was for the encouragement of my husband Srimanta Purohit and my dance teacher Madhulita Mohapatra that I could come back to dance after I settled down in Bengaluru following my marriage. I now remember that I was pregnant with this baby when I resumed my dance,” she shyly smiles.

“Sonalika met me at my newly opened Nrityantar Academy of Performing Arts in Bengaluru in 2009 and shared her disappointment over discontinuation of her dance-career. We developed the bond of two sisters. Slowly and steadily, she came back to dancing. But, to my utter amazement, Shrinika started articulating the dance postures and movements when she was just able to stand up! Gradually, she wished to wear the Odissi costume. She would always accompany her mother to my dance studio where she would spend hours with our dancers. So, all of us took special interest in this child and presented her in our annual Naman Odissi festival in 2013 following which her exceptional talent was noticed. Since then, her dance has become everyone’s delight and demand,” says Srinika’s Guru Madhulita Mohapatra, the founder of the Nrityantar Academy that has become the biggest Odissi institute of South India in just eight years.

Shrinika performing Odissi Abhinaya “Kahin Gale Murali Phunka” duet in Chinna Kala Nadam Festival 2016 at ADA Ranga Mandir Bangalore.

“Her hallmark is her incredible self-confidence, amazing grace and spontaneity; that makes her dance so special. Never does she look laboured or forced to dance,” observes Odissi scholar and critic Kedar Mishra who had recommended that she debut as a solo dancer at Odissi International in Odisha where, on audiences’ demand, she had to do an encore. Her mother says, “She is a perfectionist and responsible child. She does her home work for her school without being told. And she also agrees to do her practice at late or early hours whenever the dance programme demands. A student of standard one, she has also excelled in fine art and academics,”

When this writer who questioned Shrinika about her most favourite dance number, he was amazed when she answered like a seasoned dancer, “I wish to learn Ardhanariswara and Kede chhanda janelo sahi (the classic compositions of legendary Guru Kelucharan that star dancers Sujata Mohapatra performs time and again upon popular demand); but Madhu mummy (she called her Guru this way – Mother-Madhu) says I have to be a bigger child for this”.

“If Shrinika is someone today; it is due to the grace of God and blessings of her Guru. The entire Nrityantar Odissi family nurtures her talent and passion in the best possible way. She rightly calls my guru as Madhu mummy. Indeed, she is blessed to have two mothers”, says Sonalika with gratitude. SRC  Blog by Shyamhari Chakra which is Published in The Hindu