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Uma Dogra's tribute to her mentor
- Vijay Shankar, Mumbai

January 18, 2012

On 19th January, Sam Ved Society of Performing Arts presents the 22nd Pandit Durgalal Festival at the Nehru Centre auditorium in Mumbai. This annual program is organized by eminent dancer Uma Dogra as a mark of tribute to the great Kathak maestro Pandit Durgalal who passed away at a young age. Uma Dogra talks about her guru and her journey as a proficient Kathak dancer.

How did this idea of organizing a festival as a tribute start off?
After arriving in Mumbai after marriage, I established the Sam Ved Society of Performing Arts in order to propagate and promote India's rich cultural heritage. Meanwhile in order to pay tribute to my mentor, it was ideal to organize a festival exclusively in his name and that's the reason I did it through the medium of classical dance and music.

How would you describe your association with your mentor?
It was amazing. I still feel that his spirit lives in me and I seek his blessings before every performance and that I feel is my inspiration. He was truly the prince of Kathak. It was very sad when he died after a massive heart attack after the performance. I feel the best way to honour him and to keep his memory alive is by organising programs.

When did you establish the Sam Ved Society?
It is more than two decades now. Initially I hardly knew anybody in Mumbai but today am quite established and I have several disciples who are professionals in their own right.

Who are the performers on 19th January?
We have choreographed a special number known as Gati Gayand, featuring three distinct dance styles of Kathak, Odissi and Bharatanatyam and the dancers performing along with me are Daksha Mashruwala for Odissi and Vaibhav Arekar for Bharatanatyam. While the three dance styles are different, we establish harmony when all three of us dance together. The special attraction of the program is the Kathak performance by legendary dancer from the United States, Pandit Chitresh Das.

Do you organize any other program?
Sam Ved also organizes the young dancers' festival known as Raindrops in the month of June every year in order to promote young talent.

How would you describe your journey as dancer?
Wonderful. I am quite privileged to dance for the best of festivals both in India and abroad.

Your future plans?
To serve the society with sheer dedication to the Kathak dance style.


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