All of her dance moves...

At the age of four, she gave her first public dance performance at the Sharada International School, Manipal.

At six, she became a student of Kathak at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mumbai.

Moving to Bangalore, she shifted to learning Bharatanatyam under the able tutelage of Ashok Kumar.

She blossomed as a Bharatanatyam dancer performing with her guru, in and around Karnataka.

She professionally began choreographing at the age of 10!

Clearly for Shoma Kaikini age did not matter.

“I belong to a South Indian family, so learning dance was a common thing to do! I decided to be a professional dancer when I was 10. It was just an innate calling, the purpose of my life,” says the exuberant danseuse, who has completed about 24 years of dancing and learning.

She adds, “I feel a dancer is the one who moves to the harmony of her soul. A dancer is born and sees grace and movement in every element of life.

She cherishes each feeling that touches her heart and celebrates her spirit through dancing.

The philosophy behind dance is simple, yet complex, like the qualities of any artiste.

A true artiste moves towards art and grabs it like any man would grab a log of wood to save himself from drowning.

This choice could be conscious or subconscious.

Then there is total surrender to the art form, and this surrender helps one understand its concept on a spiritual level.

The process then guides the soul to unimaginable heights.”

On the purpose of dancing, she says, “It comprises singing, drama and poetry, which is deep and holistic. It is meditative, soulful and spiritual. The ultimate aim is not only perfection of techniques, but also self-realisation.”

She emphasises her love for music and dance that lead her to try varied styles of dance.

“Classical art requires years of profound dedication. My heart and soul is into it, and I feel if I were not into music and dance, then I would not have been living.”

“Harmony, rhythm and lyrics that touch a chord in the soul is my kind of music,” she says. It has no boundaries and limitations, so she tried her hands at Jazz, contemporary, Indian folk dance and Western free style. It was with her instinct and passion that she could successfully choreograph over 200 dances by the time she was 18 years.

“My belief in my art steers me through always, and it is akin to belief in myself or belief in the power and energy of the Universe.”

A host of awards right from her school and college days, by reputed institutions, further fuelled her dream of becoming a professional dancer.

After nine years of Bharatanatyam, Shoma felt a tug towards her first love, Kathak. At the earliest, she moved to Mumbai to expand her dancing skills and was very fortunate in getting the best teacher in Guru Nandita Puri of the Jaipur Gharana.

Shoma performed with her guru at the prestigious Mumbai festival and accompanied her to the famous Khajuraho Festival.

She  gave several memorable performances on her own in India as well as abroad. At the age of 21, Shoma directed and choreographed her own production Sangini, a dance ballet on Radha, performed at venues like the Nehru Centre, Worli, Mumbai.

She was able to choreograph the ballet to suit even those who did not have a complete understanding of the pure classical dance styles.

She  combined Kathak and Bharatanatyam and added a sprinkle of folk dance in her choreography, and thus a new style of dance was born!

Buoyancee, an institute situated in Bangalore, run by her parents since 1992, has been her motivation. Her parents Sadhana and Ajit Kaikini have won recognition from several quarters.

“I learnt to have a professional approach when I went through the courses at Buoyancee as any other child would, and was given no special treatment,” says Shoma.

For the first time, Shoma and six of her students (six-seven-year-olds from her dance school) got an offer by Zoya Akhtar to participate in her film Bobmay Talkies. “It was an enriching experience and I realised the reach of Indian cinema.”

“We represented India along with 36 other countries in an arts platform in China, I saw how beautiful other cultures are, and how the audience reacted to our performance of Kathak to the song O Re Piya. They didn’t know Hindi but would laugh and cry with us. Indian cinema can move even those who are not Indian.”

Keen on spreading the invaluable knowledge she had gained and the confidence she had developed with her method of dance and choreography, she started Nrityanidhi, an institution that aspires to build confidence through dance by giving equal importance to life skills and personality development.

This is what makes her institute stand out among so many other dance institutes.

“On August 16, 2005, with the loving support of my husband Rahul Kaikini, I started Nrityanidhi. Its blend of Indian dance forms woven in fabulous choreography not only nurtures individuals, but also stirs their souls. While music stimulates synchronisation in a student, the blending of rhythm and expression helps in relieving anxiety,” she adds.

“When I have free time, I love reading books that teach me about the magical working of God and the Universe. I love going for my evening jog and decorating my home. I also sit by myself in cafes, contemplating life,” she reveales.

“My vision is to simplify classical dance without affecting its grammar and diversity so that it reaches out to those who don’t know about it. So, even if you switch off the music in our performances, you will still see Kathak,” she explains.

The secret dreams she nurtures are “to dance across the world, and for my students from Nrityanidhi to create a beautiful stir with not only their art, but also with who they are.”

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