She’s got talent

Twelve-year old Odissi exponent Aayna Mohanty is a regular at dance festivals and has already won several awards

Aayna Mohanty is only 12 years old but has already made a mark in the field of Odissi dance. She has won quite a few awards like Nrutya Koumadi, Nrutya Shree, Tribhanga Kala Samanna, Nrutya Bharati, Kalashree Kamala Award, Bimohana Kala Samanna and Nrutya Padmaja and has been performing across the state for quite some time now. Besides, she also won in the junior category at the International Dance & Music Olympiad 2017. Aayna, who wants to popularise the dance form across the world, spoke to Orissa POST.

Born to Mathematics professor Pradip Kumar Mohanty and homemaker Suryasnata Das, the Class VII student from ODM Public School started showing keen interest in dance at the tender age of four. Since then, Odissi has become an integral part of her life. Over the years, she has perfected her dance skills and today is a regular stage performer. At the same time, she also takes her studies seriously.

“She started taking interest in Odissi shows on television at a very young age. She would closely follow the dance steps of Odissi stalwarts and would often try to imitate them in her free time. While children her age prefer watching cartoon shows on television, she liked to watch Odissi recitals,” says Suryasnata.

Seeing Aayna’s interest in the dance form, her parents decided to nurture her talent. Soon, she started taking formal training in Odissi from Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar winner Sonali Mohapatra. She was only seven then.

Recalling an interesting incident, Aayna says, “When I performed for the first time at the International Dance & Music Olympiad in Cuttack, I was a shade nervous, as I was the youngest participant in the junior category. After my performance, we left for Bhubaneswar without waiting for the prize ceremony. To our surprise, my mother got a call from the organisers and was informed that I had won the best Odissi dancer award in the junior category. That gave my confidence a boost and since then I have put my heart and soul into dancing with the hope of making it big someday.”

Aayna, who recently won the third prize at Virasat, a cultural extravaganza organised by XIMB, is also a regular at Baliyatra and Sisira Saras, the flagship annual event organised by Odisha Rural Development and Marketing Society (ORMAS).

Ask her why she chose Odissi over other dance forms, and she says, “I love the abhinaya part in Odissi. This dance form is incomplete without abhinaya. It has everything — music, melody and abhinaya. It is abhinaya that takes Odissi a few notches higher compared to many other dance forms.”

Although she takes dance seriously, Aayna aspires to become a doctor. “I take my studies seriously and want to grow up to be a doctor and serve the poor and the needy. At the same time, I also want to popularise Odissi across the globe,” she says.


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