An Embodiment of Grace and Beauty: Sohini Karanth

Sohini always had an inclination towards dance. Recognizing her interest, her parents, Mrs. Shanthala Karanth and Mr. Vishwanath Karanth encouraged her to peruse her passion. Sohini started learning Kathak at a very young age of 6. She is very fortunate to have parents who have given her a beautiful musical name of a melodious raga. Sohini has been a part of numerous prestigious productions of ADC. To name a few, her solo performance at Srujana, Abhinava Dance Company, and in Children’s Festival conducted in memory of Prema Karanth conducted by Kannada & Samskriti Department at Kuvempu Bayalu Ranga Mandir, Girinagar. She has performed across India (Hyderabad Gujarat, Rajkot, Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai, Lucknow, Coimbatore many programs in Bangalore) and in foreign countries (China and Singapore). Sohini is pursuing the 5th year degree in architecture at Dayananda Sagar college of engineering in Bangalore.

Tell us about your schooling and education.

I studied in Kendriya Vidyalaya across Pune, Lucknow, and ended up in Bangalore in KV Malleswaram till my 10th grade! Then I jumped to Sri Kumarans PU College and will graduate this year from DSCE with an Architecture degree.

How did your journey with classical dance begin?

I started learning dance at a young age of 3 in Pune, I learned Bharatanatyam under Smt Madhura Lele for three years, then moved to Lucknow where I started learning Kathak under Smt Nivedita Varsha Bhattacharya again for three years, now I am currently learning under Smt Nirupama Rajendra and Sri TD Rajendra from 14 years. I started when I was barely 3 years old and every kid loves dancing, it was one of my favorite things to do. I don’t have many memories of this but I definitely remember enjoying dance and sitting on my Teacher’s lap and looking at other classes being conducted. I have no memory of Bharatanatyam though! When I moved to Lucknow, my mother wanted me to learn Kathak in Lucknow Gharana, so she enrolled me for classes at Sangeet Bhavan where I even learned Hindustani music. I was so attached to this place that I only realized it when I had boarded the train to Bangalore and saw my teacher who had come to bid adieu, cry. When I landed in Bangalore, my mom heard one of her friends say that Smt Nirupama Rajendra is the best Kathak Dancer here, every mom wants the best for her children, and that’s how I met my present Gurus. I have been part of the Abhinava Dance company for 14 years now and have performed with them across many cities and abroad.

What encouraged you to pursue classical dance?

I started learning at a very young age, so it was all fun and play till a point I started realizing this is what I want to do and this is what I enjoy the most!

Tell us about some artists who inspire you.

Pt. Bhirju Maharaj , Saswati didi (Saswati Sen) and my Gurus.

How important is it learn about other dance forms? Do you draw inspiration from any other dance form?

It is very important. Everytime I watch any other form, my mind is mesmerized to see so many beautiful ways to convey the same story from our Puranas that even we convey as kathak dancers, and how our country is so versatile and so rich with these art forms. There are many times I draw inspiration from them, so to me, it’s very very important. I draw inspiration from a lot of dance forms to name a few - Bharatanatyam, Ballet, Odissi, Yakshagana. I even enjoy the various movements of the Natya Shastra.

How was your first on-stage experience?

I was so young, I don’t even remember it!

What is your pre-performance routine? How do you prepare yourself for the prolonged hours of make-up and dressing up before a colossal performance?

It’s something I love so I just do it with a smile on my face! Any performance takes a lot of practice, sometimes a day or two sometimes months! You just got to do it, as simple as that!

Can you educate us about the importance of practice? What is your daily routine?

Nothing comes without practice, as simple as that. Some things you learn quickly, somethings take some time. As long as you are willing to learn, everything is fine! My daily routine is to start off with yoga or exercise and practice as much as possible. I do a little bit of research and listen to music that inspires me. It’s super hard to stick to a routine for me as I keep doing a lot of things. Some days are lazy days but that’s also needed!

According to you, how has social media and digital marketing affected Kathak and other forms of classical dance?

There are a lot of things that are not the same as looking at the phone! There are a lot of challenges we dancers face coming to the digital world! But, however, looking at our current situation, a lot of changes are happening and we have to adapt! But we will always love a good audience, a stage, and lights! It’s a whole different and an amazing feeling to perform in front of people rather than cameras! To make it simple, here is an example, if I am performing something and my audience isn’t enjoying, I would know and so I can make changes and be spontaneous, which can’t be done with an Instagram live!

What would be your advice to anyone who wants to pursue Classical dance?

If you love what you are doing, why stop?

What are your future plans?

Something I have never been sure of! All I know is I wanna dance and that I love landscape architecture! So something that includes both of these for sure!

Here is a small snippet of Sohini's beautiful performance.

She also has a youtube page. She puts up her charming and alluring choreographies. Do give it a watch!

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