Text: Paul Nicodemus
Pinkey Choudhary, a passionate Kathak dancer from Delhi, is someone who would inspire aspiring dancers to achieve their dreams with her sheer dedication and positive outlook towards life. Despite the challenges, she came forth like a precious stone and proved herself to be a brilliant Kathak dancer. An avid reader and collector of good thoughts, she has sent ripples in the world of Indian classical dance.
Pinkey was born to Ramesh Kumar Choudhary and Kiran Choudhary on February 3 in New Delhi. They are a family of six including father, mother, three daughters and a son. None of her family members had anything to do with arts. Pinkey, after completing her basic education, developed a penchant for performing arts. She started performing in her school events from a young age. “Somehow, I got attracted to dance while watching performances at my school. The desire to dance just grew inside me and one day I performed. Dancing on stage gave me a lot of joy,” she says. As a child, alone in her room, Pinkey tried to dance to classical songs while humming them. Most of her education took place in central Delhi and it gave her good exposure to Indian arts. She completed her graduation in Humanities from Delhi University.
next level in dancing. She continuously took part in school cultural programmes in school and As Pinkey grew in age, she began searching for avenues which would take her to the college and longed for something advanced. One day, she visited the library in the university and came across a pamphlet on dance classes. She immediately contacted the organisers and delved into the world of dance.
Kathak is the Indian classical dance style of her choice. She started learning under Guru Pt. Ashok Kumar Lal, senior Classical dance teacher of the Air Force School, Dhaula Kuan. Later, she came under the tutelage of Guru Pt. Prakash Gangani and trained in Kathak (Jaipur Gharana) in Guru-Shishya Parampara. Having a guru brought forth the inner artist in her. The guru showed her the path, and she has been treading it brilliantly with dedication. Under his guidance, she grew as a beautiful dancer. Pinkey put in a lot of effort into dancing. Her enthusiasm was such that she woke up early in the morning and reached the class by 5 am, even before her guru. Riyaz became an integral part of her daily routine. She practised Kathak in the morning, evening and whenever she found time. “I’ve been doing stage shows under the guidance of Guruji. He has been spreading his Art of Music (Ghazal) and Dance among the people in various states through various shows till date,” she says.
She has been practising dance professionally since 2010. To further her dance education, she did a Senior Diploma in Indian Classical Dance of Kathak in Jaipur Gharana from Prayag Sangeet Samiti, Allahabad. Pinkey developed a practical knowledge of senior and junior levels of Kathak Dance. She is a member of Nritya Kala Mandir founded by Pt. Ashok Kumar Lal. She has been learning dance techniques under famous gurus.
Getting acceptance from the audience was her initial challenge as she represented Indian classical dance at a time when people in Delhi got attracted to modern dances. Soon she realised, once the artiste believes in herself, the audience would start appreciating. “An audience of western dancers applauded my first professional performance,” she reveals.
Pinkey would remember the struggle and effort that she put in to become a Kathak dancer. Initially, her parents were not supportive of her artistic endeavour as they were not acquainted with Indian arts. Many times, she had to blindside them to practice dance. They finally accepted her as a dancer after watching her perform on stage. “My family appreciated me after witnessing my professional performance. They never imagined that I would become a professional at dancing. They felt proud of my achievement,” she says.
Apart from being a professional dancer, she is also a career counsellor who works in a school. Initially, when she informed her father about her interest in becoming a professional dancer, he did not accept it, and she had to start her career as an academician. Later, she applied to become a dance teacher. Now, she shares her day between academics and dance teaching. “I teach in a school in the morning and teach and practice dance in the second half of the day,” she explains.
Pinkey also choreographs her dance pieces, drawing from the knowledge that she gained from stalwarts like Pt Birju Maharaj of Lucknow Gharana. Especially, ‘Bhav Paksha’ that she learnt under Maharaj is her favourite. According to her, a fusion of Kathak with other art forms is possible but without disturbing or forgetting the grammar and roots of Kathak.
Pinkey has her family roots in Haryana and women in her community, culturally are not usually given the freedom to practise dancing after marriage. “After thinking thoroughly, I felt, I cannot leave the dance and stayed single giving up marital bliss. I am ready to sacrifice for the sake of dance,” she says. She has dedicated her life to dance.
Her solo Kathak performance at Guru Hazari Lal Jayanti Samaroh in South Delhi auditorium is one of her revered achievements. Since then, she has performed in various dance festivals including Cuttack Mahotsav, Jathis National Dance Festival by NMDA, Sathyanjali Festival, Vasanthotsav by Pt. Birju Maharaj. She received several awards in various Inter-College and Inter-School Level Competitions. She acted as a judge in dance competitions at Air Force Golden Jubilee School, Dhaula Kuan.
Pinkey Choudhary is an eternal learner and desires to learn and do all that she can regarding Indian Classical Arts. “I am truly and deeply involved with Indian classical dance and it requires such deep involvement that even a lifetime is not enough,” she concludes.