Roni’s Choice

Rashmi Rekha Das, OP

“Age does not matter when you have talent. Talent can’t be suppressed… a talented artiste will grow through sheer determination”

For years, Ronalisa had dreamed of a career in dance. But after marriage and motherhood, she put aside her dreams. And then, most unexpectedly, she got a chance to pursue her passion for dancing. She went to a dance school to admit her little daughter and decided to take up lessons herself. Under the tutelage of SK Raja, she honed her dancing talent and took part in the ‘Dance India Dance Super Moms’ aired on Zee TV. Through sheer determination and hard work, she attained her place in the spotlight at the age of 38. Ronalisa, who is now a dance teacher in Balasore, shares her story with Orissa Post.

Born and raised in a conservative family, Ronalisa,or Roni for short, always wanted to have a career in dance. But her path to becoming a renowned dancer was not easy. As a young girl, when she expressed her desire to learn modern dance, her parents’ immediate reply was no.


“Since my childhood I was passionate about dancing. But my parents were against it. My elder sister was very fond of singing. Even she was not allowed to follow her passion. My parents were of the view that if we were allowed to learn dance and music, we could be influenced by the glamour world, which, in their view, would corrupt us. However, I used to take part in various dance competitions without my parents’ knowledge and hide all the certificates and mementos. When I was pursuing a postgraduate course, I bagged the first prize in a dance competition. My performance was lauded by my teachers and friends who even advised me to try my luck in the film industry. However, no one in my family knew about my participation in the competition.”

Roni got married on January 24, 2007 and her marriage, indeed, gave her the chance to turn her dream into reality. It was her husband who recognised her talent and gave her permission to learn modern dance. “Two years after we got married, we were blessed with a daughter. When my baby turned two, I took her to a dance school for admission. As luck would have it, I just made up my mind to hone my dancing skills. I asked my husband and he said yes without any hesitation. I was selected for the reality show “Dance India Dance” (DID) just one and a half months after starting modern dance training under the tutelage of SK Raja.”

That’s not all. Roni cleared the Bhubaneswar and Kolkata rounds of DID and made it to the top 60. Though she was not able to make it to the top 10, she made Orissa proud of her.

Roni says, “To me, dancing, especially modern, is my safe zone. The moment I enter the dance studio, I leave my problems out the door. The moment I start dancing, I forget all the woes of life. I realised that when I teach dance, I can actually free myself from all the anxieties in my day to day life. I also want people to feel that dance is bliss. Many times people have thanked me for making them feel better than they used to be.”

Sharing her experience in DID, she says, “Though my in-laws are liberal, I did not inform anybody about my audition for DID. They were so happy after watching me perform on television. But I was overwhelmed when my parents said, ‘we are proud of you.’”

Roni, who always wants to create magic on the dance floor and puts her heart and soul into every performance, is now a renowned dance teacher in Balasore. Interestingly, she does not charge a single penny from her students.

Attributing her success to her husband Arunanshu Panigrahi, she says, “I am really grateful to God that I am married to a person who is supportive and reads my mind before I even say anything. I owe my success to him, and his support has helped me reach where I am today. And my daughter is my lucky charm. After she came into my life, I got an identity as a dancer. Last but not the least, my teacher SK Raja played a vital role in making my career.”

In a nutshell

Nickname: Roni
Inspiration: Mother
Favourite food: Chinese dishes
Favourite dancers: Govinda, SK Raja.

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