A singer and dancer par excellence, six-year-old Sriyansi Subadarshilni has more than 50 shows to her credit. Her singing and dancing skills have made her a household name in Sambalpur. However, she doesn’t take pride in that given that she has acquired those skills from her father Mohit Kumar Swain and mother Padmini Dora.
Mohit is one of the most prominent dance directors in Odisha, specialising in Sambalpuri dance, and a recognised artiste at Doordarshan, Sangeet Natak Akademi and Ministry of Culture, Government of Odisha and Union Culture Ministry.
Padmini, on the other hand, is the winner of Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar. The couple has been promoting folk dance and music in western Odisha and enjoys a celebrity status there. Given that music and dance run in her blood, it was quite natural for Sriyansi to follow in her parent’s footsteps.
Sriyansi was smitten by the dancing bug at the age of three. “As we both were into performing arts, it was quite natural for Sriyansi to develop an interest in dance. We first realised this at an event in Kendrapara. Padmini was also part of that event. In the middle of the show, Sriyansi suddenly walked up the stage and started dancing. Her moves impressed the then Collector of Kendrapara and he too joined her on the stage. Captivated by Sriyansi’s performance, he advised me to nurture her talent,” says Mohit.
Besides choreography, Mohit is an equally accomplished dhol player and also trains aspiring dancers. “Sriyansi, a keen observer, makes it a point to be present at the dance sessions conducted by me. She later practices those steps and picks them up flawlessly,” says Mohit, adding that Sriyanshi’s involvement compelled him to allow her to be part of those training sessions.
Sriyansi now learns dancing with seniors in her father’s classes but never fails to impress them.
“She is really talented. While the seniors take three to four days to perfect certain dance steps, it doesn’t take more than a day for Sriyansi to do the same. However, there is difference between performing in a room and on stage. So, I started taking her to my shows to get her acquainted with the ambience.”
Today, Sriyansi regularly performs on stage with her father in tow but has stayed away from participating in dance competitions.
“I think she is too young to participate in competitions. Moreover, if she fails to win, it might dent her confidence. I want her first grow her confidence and also get prepared for failure before participating in competitions,” says Mohit
Recalling a memorable incident, Mohit says, “Once my team was invited to an event in Kolkata. Sriyansi was not part of that event but she was accompanying me. She suddenly wanted to perform and asked for a costume. Left with no choice, I had to speak to the organisers putting forward my daughter’s demand. Fortunately, they not only agreed but also arranged for a costume. She performed a duet with an adult member of my team and became the show stealer.”
Besides performing for her father’s troupe, Sriyansi has performed at other events too. A few notable among those are Sambalpuri Din and Nuakhai Bhetghat organised by Odisha Sanskrutik Parishad and Natraj festival – all held in Sambalpur. She has also showcased her acting skills in music albums like Mohan Murali, Sambalpuria Nani and Kahnu Dakidechi Nisha Rati.
Sriyansi, a Class III student of Kendriya Vidyalaya, is not only good at dancing and singing, but also is a brilliant student. Padmini says, “We consider Sriyansi as the biggest gift from God. Our professions don’t allow us to spend much time with our daughter but she never complains. Moreover, she knows how to balance studies and her passion. We are proud of her.”
BRATATI BARAL, OP