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It Takes a Village to Raise A Dancer

As a child, Tiyasha hopped on a rickshaw twice a week with her grandmother to go to dance class. Her grandmother never took a book to pass the time. Instead, she sat there, passively thinking. Tiyasha suspects it might have been about her own missed opportunities. Tiyasha owes the seeds of her practice to her Didu, who took her to classes and sustained her with encouragement.


But it was really the persistence of her mother’s cousin, her Bantu Mama, who steered her towards Odissi. For over two decades he trained and kept her rooted to the form. Subhikash Mukherjee is the founder of Sankalpa Nrityayan, an Odissi school in Kolkata.


Tiyasha also feels very grateful to her parents for never pushing her to dance. They held her hand in moments she wanted to step back, explore other fields like art history, painting, music.  She believes that was vital for her to develop her own sense of aesthetics in dance.

The Space Between Constructs

In dance, the elements of two constructed genders merge. The Yin and Yang. The rigidity and endurance typically associated with a man blurs into the poise, grace, and life affirming fertility of a woman. Shiva and Parvati.


Tiyasha channels the line between these constructs as she evaluates what gender means to her own life. As a child she was mostly uncomfortable with the traditional push to look like a girl. When no one was looking she would throw out some Bruce Lee inspired moves.


You could say that motherhood anchored her to a more formal gender role, but she’s quick to say she’s never thought much about her own gender in context to the world. What she knows is that the idea of devotion has only ripened after motherhood. It allowed her to come to know a certain unbridled love that sustains her artistic work and dance. It feeds the connection she seeks from her place and purpose in the world.


The outside world, even when it comes to friends and family, can’t intricately know the unique bond you have with creation: with your own children or in dance.


Maybe that’s why this untranslated devotion and love mirror each other in inexplicable bonds and art.

Growing Into and Out Of

Tiyasha was a formalist first and enjoyed the Pallavis more than anything. It was the form that mesmerised her the most and her focus remains on it primarily. With time and motherhood she’s started to really enjoy Abhinayas, albeit specific mother-child ones and not so much the overly devotional. She wants to channel ‘real life’ into her work and  add a contemporary aesthetic without compromising classical form.

Aesthetics and design plan a huge part in work and life. It’s a balance of starkness, think a white painted rock or a plain brick background. Now add old brass, wood. The pop comes in oranges and reds. The allegiance to this aesthetic is played with in dance, home decor and dressing up the kids.

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