Sattriya exponent Dimple Saikia

Sattriya Exponent Dimple Saikia: Performer To Researcher

November 4, 2020

Dimple Saikia of Guwahati is a dedicated Sattriya exponent and she has been associated with this major Indian classical dance form since her childhood.

Her father Guru Gobinda Saikia is one of the most revered Sattriya gurus and it is under him that both Dimple and her elder brother Pradyumna received their training.

For Dimple, Sattriya is not just a dance but it is a way to express herself.

She wants to delve deeper and unearth more unseen and unheard gems of this wonderful dance.

She is a disciple of Sattriya who is currently pursuing her PhD and has a lot of plans in store for the future.

The Story Mug (TSM) caught up with this talented and dedicated Sattriya exponent and learnt a lot about her life and works.

TSM: Tell us when did the Sattriya bug bite you?

Dimple: Dance has always been my first love. As my father is my Guru, I have grown up in an environment where I have always been surrounded by various forms of traditional geet (songs) and bols.

Moreover, watching my father practice and teach his students right from my childhood had an impact on my right from a very tender age.

Call it the effect of the ambience or the magnetic nature of the sounds and the dance moves, without anyone's realisation I began to tap my feet and imitate my fathers' move right from my young age.

So, I can say that it was around then when the Sattriya bug bit me, infusing the craze for the dance form into my veins.

TSM: Tell us about your initial training days and the guidance you got from your father.

Dimple: My initial training took place at Guwahati Kala Kendra- the Sattriya dance school of my father.

There is a popular belief that the sons and daughters of gurus get special training from them but it's not like that in my case.

Well, it is true I can speak to him easily in case I forget something but the fact is I never got any special treatment from my father.

For him, I was like any other student and anything regarding dance was taught only at the school and back home, he was my father and I was his daughter.

And if I committed any mistake, he scolded me the way he scolded other students on their mistakes and he does the same even today.

Today, however, we have discussions on various topics- right from dance themes to costumes and music.

And whenever I have any doubts, I directly approach him and clear it.

He has always taught me to be independent and I value his teachings and lessons.

TSM: What has been his contributions in shaping your career?

Dimple: Tremendous and he has been the epitome of endurance.

And as said earlier, I continue to learn from him even today.

Not only my father but even my mother has immense contribution and support in shaping my career the way it has shaped up.

They never forced me to take up dance as my career and the decision was solely mine.

I was an M Com student and had even cleared the intermediate of Cost Accountant when I decided to join Dr Bhupen Hazarika Centre for Studies in Performing Arts, Dibrugarh University and pursue an MA in dance.

My parents supported my decision and stood by me and all they said was that they believed in me and my decision-making qualities.

Their support means a lot to me.

TSM: Tell us when did you think of pursuing a PhD in Sattriya?

Dimple: It was during my MA third semester (Sattriya dance) when I decided to do a PhD if everything fell on the right track.

After I qualified the National Eligibility Test (NET), I enrolled myself in the PhD programme at Visva Bharati University, Santiniketan.

TSM: Tell us what is the focus area of your research work?

Dimple: My topic is Sattriya dance and Manipuri dance: A Comparative Study.

The topic was in my mind ever since when I decided to pursue my PhD. The primary reason for choosing the topic is that both are the classical dance forms of the northeast.

TSM: After PhD do you plan to join academics full-time?

Dimple: I have not decided anything on it yet as my first aim is to complete the PhD at the earliest, hopefully without much errors.

TSM: As a performer which has been your most memorable performance so far?

Dimple: As a performer, every stage provides you with some wonderful memories. But if you want me to mention a particular performance then I would like to say that my US tour was as the most memorable experience.

For the performance, I had travelled alone and received wonderful reviews from the art lovers and among them was the great dance critic Alastair Macaulay of the New York Times who even put my name in the top 10 list of the Best Dance 2017.

This is just one among the many other dance performances.

TSM: What are the 10 must-do things for someone who wishes to excel as a Sattriya performer?

Dimple: I am a learner myself and from all my experiences so far, I would say that with regular and dedicated practice, one can become a great performer. However, one needs to be a true and honest individual. One must not have many faces or layer of masks on top of the other. One must always thrive to be humble, kind, gentle, soft-spoken and one should never envy others.

TSM: Any message for the upcoming Sattriya performers of the state.

Dimple: Be humble, keep patience, be down to earth, respect every individual and spread love.

Life is unpredictable and today we are laughing out loud, while tomorrow someone may be mourning for us.

One should keep one's feet on the ground when tasting success and also must remain calm on facing failures.

And lastly, one should never stop rehearsing and practising as it helps in keeping our dancing skills sharp.

ALSO READ | For The Love of Belly Dancing

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