Interview with Danseuse Simran Godhwani

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Combining her love for dance and desire to excel in all fields makes Simran Godhwani a high achiever.

Simran Godhwani is a woman who wears many hats. Well the renowned Kathak dancer who quit her cushy IT job to pursue her passion was recently crowned Miss Lady Star Universe – 2018 in Portugal. An accomplished performer and choreographer, she is also the Founder & Creative Director of Krshálá Dance Theatre. Here are excerpts from an exclusive interview.

Tell us about yourself, growing years and how you were as a child?

Born in India and raised in London and Dubai I am a computer science graduate who worked for over four years with an IT major in Bangalore before I left to pursue my passion for Kathak. I decided to quit working because of the monotony of a 9-5 job.

What attracted you to dance and when did you start learning?

I have been learning dance since I was 5 years old and have been pursuing Kathak professionally under my Gurus Shri Murari Sharan and Pt. Birju Maharaj for the past 15 years. And with both their blessings I have also been sharing this knowledge to students across the world through my institute Krshala Dance Theatre. I started pursuing Kathak with my Guru Shri Murari, a disciple of the legendary Kathak Guru, Pandit Birju Maharaj. Both my Guru Shri Murari and Dada Guru Panditji ensured that I received the best training in this form and till today continue to do so in the Guru-Shishya parampara.

Why did you choose to specialize in Kathak?

My love for Krishna, his folk tales and the way Kathak presents a story using the most natural subtle movements and stylized gestures with intense but subtle facial expressions is what drove me to specialize in this form. In Kathak, to depict love that has been unrequited the dancer needs to feel the intensity and bring out the facial expression in a very subtle manner.

Which has been your most memorable performance and why?

To be able to perform for Pt. Birju Maharaj’s 70th birthday in his birthplace Handia, Allahabad has been one of my most memorable performances. Dancers from all over the world had come to this little town to take part in his Birthday celebrations and I felt very blessed to be one of the chosen few to perform at this festival.

How did you prepare for Miss Lady Star Universe – 2018?

Six months of intense training in various aspects like grooming, fitness, communication and confidence building, putting together the right wardrobe for various events from some of the best industry experts helped me prepare for Miss Lady Star Universe.

Did you expect to win? How was your experience at the pageant?

I worked hard for six months before the pageant. By taking part in this pageant, I had the honour to represent my country and opportunity to meet people from all countries and understand the importance of embracing one’s heritage and celebrating what makes us unique. In every round we had the opportunity to present our culture and the richness of our land to a very diverse group of judges and audience who appreciated and valued our diversity. When I won, it was the most wonderful feeling in the world because I had worked hard to achieve this goal. And when the crown was placed on my head it was a validation of all the hard work that I had put in.

Tell us about your school Krshálá Dance Theatre in Bangalore?

Krshala – that translates to (Kri –  Kriya or Movement; Shaala – Space) is a dance school that is over twelve years old and is going strong where dancers of all age groups undergo training in the classical dance form of Kathak. The students are trained as per the guru-shishya parampara.

What kind of work do you do through Samam – Center for Movement and Dance your NGO?

The NGO wing of Sámám is dedicated to providing cultural education to children from less privileged backgrounds, with a view to enabling them, in time, to earn a living as performing dancers and teachers. We teach and certify these children in a very professional and structured manner in performing arts and help them find employment with various institutions that look out for specialized teachers in these areas. We also use it as therapy for children who have gone through various abuses.

What are your future plans?

One of my plans is to understand as to how I can leverage digital technology to reach out to students who would love to learn Kathak from various parts of the world. Right now mostly I use Skype, but I feel it is very restricted and does not work well for groups. I am looking for innovators in the digital technology space who can provide me with a more reliable solution.

This story first appeared in Spunky Indian Magazine’s May 2019 issue here:

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