Arushi Mudgal On Being An Ace Odissi Dancer | Verve Magazine
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July 06, 2016

Arushi Mudgal On Being An Ace Odissi Dancer

Text by Simone Louis. Photograph by Ankush Maria. Styling by Anuradha Gandhi

She talks about her most unforgettable experiences and the best advice she’s received


First steps
“I come from a performing arts family. My father is a musician, my aunt is an Odissi dancer and my grandparents were also musicians who started the Gandharva Mahavidyalaya in 1939, an institute in New Delhi. Since I was surrounded by these art forms, I developed an inclination toward dance. It was around the age of five that I started formally learning from my aunt (Madhavi Mudgal).”

Beyond accolades
“People often ask about awards and what they call my ‘finest performances’ but I don’t look at those things per se as achievements. It’s definitely wonderful to be acknowledged, and I feel very fortunate to be recognised for my work fairly early in my life, but it’s not what I measure success by. My biggest achievement would be my family and teachers feeling that I’ve really assimilated and implemented whatever fantastic things they’ve taught me.”

Performance prep
“I know a lot of dancers who don’t like to rehearse or do anything on the day of a performance; it works for a lot of people. But I need to practise at least a little bit of dance, even if I’m completely prepared. It doesn’t even need to be what I’m about to perform….”

Unforgettable experiences
“In 2005, I performed in Kalakshetra, Chennai. For some reason, it’s been one of my most memorable moments because of the indescribably incredible energy that I felt during the performance. I don’t know what it was — maybe the sanctity of the place or the vibe that the audience was giving us — but something beautiful that happened that day. There are performances that go well and you feel happy after it’s done, and there are those during which you feel unbelievable joy…it was just one of those days.”

Best advice ever received
“If you’re doing something, relish it; otherwise, don’t do it. And, treat everything as an art. I could be learning how to bake a cake and I’ll still follow both these teachings. Also, my father always says that nothing is original. Everyone’s art is influenced by something or someone, so I believe in absorbing everything around me and using it in a way to express myself.”

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