Shy by nature, Bhumika Bhabapriya does not love to interact much with people. But once she begins performing, she lights up the stage with her dance, enthralling the audience. At the age of 13, Bhumika has set a benchmark in Odissi dance. Recipient of the Nrutya Naibedya and Odissi Pratibha awards among 30 others, Bhumika literally worships the dance form and wants to spread it across the globe. In a tete-a-tete with Orissa POST, Bhumika reveals how she developed a strong rapport with the classical dance form from a tender age.
Bhumika, a Class VIII student of DAV, Pokhariput, started dancing when she was only two. Her mother Jyotsna says, “She was highly influenced by her father, music director Sumanta Mohanty, who was murdered in 2008. She was just two when she used to dance to her father’s music compositions. Often, she used to dance for an hour at a stretch without taking a break. Seeing her growing interest in dance, Odissi exponent Guru Gangadhar Pradhan advised my husband to admit her in his institution, Odissi Dance Academy, to hone her skill. She learned Odissi under the tutelage of Pradhan sir for a year. In the meanwhile, her father was killed over a past enmity. And the incident left a lasting impact on her as she was very close to him. Her father used to feel happy to see her all dressed up in Odissi attire for her performance. Bhumika’s dance performances are in a way her tribute to her father. In the process, she has become very close to the dance form. Practicing Odissi is part of her daily routine. Sometimes she even forgets to take her meals.”
Bhumika, who is currently learning Odissi under the guidance of Aruna Mohanty following the death of Guru Gangadhar Pradhan, is one of the youngest recipients of the national junior scholarship in Odissi. Jyotsna says, “Usually, Odissi dancers in the 20-year age group apply for the junior scholarship. Bhumika was only 10, when Pravat Swain, an Odissi teacher, advised me to apply for the scholarship for her. However, I was reluctant because I felt she was too young. On his insistence, I applied for the scholarship and she got selected. When we got the letter asking her to appear for an examination to get the junior scholarship certificate, she had only four days left to prepare for the examination. However, she made up her mind to sit for the examination and cleared it with good grades.”
Sharing another proud moment, her mother says, “Bhumika was only eight when she participated in the All Odisha Talent Show Tal Se Tal Mila. As many as 200 school and college students were part of the talent show. I had lost hope when the third prize winner was declared. As there were many good performers, I asked our family members to leave even before the programme finished. And then, the host declared Bhumika’s name as the first prize winner. It was one of the proudest moments for me as a mother.”
Bhumika, who attributes her success to her mother, says, “I was selected to receive the Rajiv Gandhi award. Following my performance, when I went to the stage to receive the award from the chief guest Prasad Harichandan, he asked me my age. He smiled broadly when he learnt that I had been learning Odissi for the last six years, and I was only eight. He was very impressed by my dance and said that my moves were similar to that of Sanjukta Panigrahi. You are going to become a good artiste like her, he said. It was the best compliment I had ever received.”
RASHMI REKHA DAS, OP