'India helped me grow as an artiste'

She has dedicated her life presenting and promoting Indian performing arts. Known to be one of the leading international performing artistes of three forms of Indian dance: Odissi, Chhau and Manipuri, Sharon Lowen has made India her home since 1973 and has entirely dedicated herself to her work as an artiste.

This is remarkable achievement for a foreigner who came to India 41 years ago and has earned the respect of audiences and critics alike in her ‘adopted’ country. Her devotion towards Indian classical dance and her perfectionism has made her one of the leading dancers of our country.

Talking to Metrolife about her journey and India, the danseuse said, “My love for dance brought me to India...and the rest is history. I even had the privilege to get training under such great gurus, which game me a more comparative understanding about various dance forms. Abhinaya was a forte and my gurus encouraged me to enhance my skills as a dancer and artiste. India helped me grow as an artiste, where else will you find so many types of live music, festivals, etc.”

Going down memory lane, Sharon says, “The old days were different. That time no one thought that a foreigner would make a mark in India, but now people have changed their opinion, and that has made me stay on and helped me become a
stronger person.”

And were there any challenges? “Oh yes! There were many challenges that I faced during my initial days, but were not worthy enough as compared to my dance and art,” added Sharon.

Currently living in New Delhi with her mother who is almost 97-years-old and her daughter, the dancer spoke about her family and friends back in the United States of America (USA). “Initially they were all sceptical about my stay in India as they thought my art would not get respect here and I should go back to the USA, but, gradually they too have changed their minds.”

The renowned Odissi danseuse who has also been part of Indian cinema, shared her thoughts on the changing times in Bollywood, “There are many great dancers in
Bollywood and some of the dances are really great, but, nowadays it is unfortunate to see that sensuality in the films has given way to overt sexuality.”

Talking about Delhi, she said, “I am a Dilliwaali now, and it is the only capital city in the world where anyone can enjoy and see fantastic exhibitions, performing arts, etc, for free. Otherwise, in other countries you have to be quite wealthy to see all these.”

Being a foreigner and learning and accepting things on a foreign land is not an easy task, and plus the regular incidents of crime against women. On this Sharon said, “When I came to Delhi for the first time, it was a very safe City. That time New York (NY) used to be known as really unsafe, but now things are just the opposite.

NY has become safe and Delhi, unsafe. And all these things really bothers me for my daughter. I don’t travel by Metro or rickshaw because I am thankful to my fortunate situation that I have a car and driver and can roam freely and safely. But, what about the younger people?”

Finally ending the ‘frank talk’ on a lighter note, Sharon shared her love for Delhi’s food. “It is really good to see restaurants having various cuisines from India itself. Li­­ke now we get authentic Bengali, Rajasthani and Gujarati food, which wasn’t the case before. We only used to get Punjabi food!”

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