Started dancing at the age of 4, is now a national champion!
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Started dancing at the age of 4, is now a national champion!

Jahnavi Dureja, an Odissi dancer was also an athlete

Started dancing at the age of 4, is now a national champion!

New Delhi: Martha Graham once said, “Dance is the hidden language of our soul.” This is the story of Jahnavi Dureja, an Odissi dancer who was also an athlete. At the age of 4, she started learning Gymnastics and Bharatanatyam Dance. She pursued her athletics career till the age of 9 and then she focussed on her dancing and now she is in the First Year of her Bachelor in Arts (Economic & Political Science).

Dureja said, “At the age of 4, I started learning dance and gymnastics, but later my love for dance increased, and then I started learning Bharatanatyam. I remember, in 2012 my school got selected to be a part of the International Youth Peace and Cultural Festival by UNESCO in China. I performed there and truly it was one of the best experiences of my life and we were the youngest team to perform there. It was so memorable for me because at that time, China was my dream country and at the same time, it was very difficult for me to perform there because a few days back, my mother and my brother had a major accident.”

She added, “At that time, I was thinking, should I go or not? If I deserve this and I am capable, I will go there next time. There are so many things that went through my mind. It was a 5-day trip and I told my mother that I do not want to go. She denied it and asked me to go. It was now a 10-day trip because the dates were extended and I was not aware and was in shock. Whatever I have achieved till now is only because of my mother.”

“In Beijing, there are so many schools and we spent our trip with them. We did a lot of activities together and everyone was having a good time. However, it was always in the back of my mind that my mother is in hospital and in this condition, I have to perform on stage. I even wanted to quit but  I didn't because this was for our school, I couldn’t take that decision alone,” Dureja added.

She further said, “I remember that day when I came back, my mother was standing with a half-broken collarbone and a swollen face. My Nanu was also there to pick me up. In 2020, I participated in Bharat Sanskriti Utsav, it is an International level dance competition and I won the president award. I was one of those 600.”

“I have done plenty of shows in lockdown with my guru Atasi Misra like International Odissi Dance Festival, Navaratri Sangamam by The Lasya, National Achievers Awards. Guru Atasi has always helped me. She is the one who gave me so much exposure. With the help of Kala Kalp, I participated in a national-level dance competition in Odisha and secured 3rd position in the senior category last year in the national level Odissi dance competition and I am the only one who belongs from Delhi and others are from Odisha and West Bengal,” she added.

She said, “Last year I went to Chennai for Navaratri Sangamam by The Lasya, and we did Odissi there. In January, we went to Gujarat for the Uttarardh Dance Festival. I got a lot of exposure because of guru Atasi. Apart from being my teacher, she is also my mentor. She is a disciplined person and I was very careless initially. She is very supportive. She treats her students as family. I am also a zonal level gymnast. I played football for 2 years and I was the best female football player in my school. I also learned Golf, however, I did not explore this game and I did not play any matches.”

She concluded, “I am very lucky because my family supports me in every way. Even my parents and my grandparents are supportive of me, not everybody has that.”