Arts and dance are not extracurricular, says Sonal Mansingh

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Dance Exponent, Sonal Mansingh
Dance Exponent, Sonal Mansingh

Hyderabad: “Arts are the mainstay and flavour of life, without which it is empty. Extracurricular activity as a word used for arts and dance shouldn’t be used anymore,” said Bharatanatyam and Odissi dance exponent Sonal Mansingh.

A plenary session ‘A Life in Dance’ moderated by Kuchipudi danseuse Dr Alekhya Punjala at Hyderabad Literary Festival saw Sonal Mansingh, whose biography ‘Sonal Mansingh: A Life Like No Other’ was released in 2017, touching upon topics she felt strongly about.

Sharing how a dance performance by Uday Shankar set the course of her journey, she said, “My mother was pregnant with me when she attended Uday Shankar’s dance performance. She was so influenced by it that she wished the child she was carrying took to dance and it so happened that it became my purpose”.

She touched upon the subject of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan and her inclusion in his navratnas, a subject she has captured in her work, ‘Divyalok-Abode of Divinity’.

“We are careless about everything, our environment, each other. Cleanliness is not just about the broom. Pure and positive thinking which translates into our words and language and interaction is very important now,” said Sonal Mansingh.

Elaborating about the river pollution in India, a subject she has explored in her production, ‘Naatya Katha’, she said, “Today’s Yamuna is a gutter not a river. It matches the description in the Bhagavata Mahapurana, which is the life story of Lord Krishna. Krishna had to throw a ball into the river Yamuna to cleanse it when the poisonous naga Kaalia began to pollute it. Today, it is not the Supreme Court or the Government, but the common man who has to play the role of Krishna.”

She expressed concern over the position of women in contemporary society, a subject she has drawn on heavily in productions like Draupadi, Panchkanya. “We talk about education, empowerment and enlightenment of women, why not empowerment of man? Why does a man get jealous or feel threatened if a woman moves forward? Like International Women’s day, there should be an International Men’s Day. Times have changed, but egos haven’t altered,” said the Padma Vibhushan awardee.