Panni Somi is a big name in Budapest, Hungary and a busy professional, running her own academy/dance school. She feels that Hungary is a dancing nation (and she is quite serious when she says this). She feels dance is in the blood of every Hungarian.
However she feels internally so deeply connected to Indian culture that she likes to call herself the interpreter of Indian classical dance in Hungary. She feels at home whenever she visits India. She feels art has no boundaries.
Her performances have been acclaimed by the National Dance Theatre of Hungary and the Hungarian Academy of Dance.
Panni Somi is a contemporary dance artist, but she wants to preserve the heritage of art as much as possible.
Hello Panni, a warm welcome to Blogcritics. Help us understand your journey towards excellence in Indian Classical Dance. At what age and how did you get connected to Indian Classical Dance? What fascinated you with Indian culture?
I didn’t start Indian dance very young. The reason is very understandable: in Hungary at that time there was no possibility to learn any form of Indian dance. Until the age of 18 I didn’t even hear about its existence.
In my childhood I did sports, mainly gymnastics, and I learnt some ballet and modern dance. I was fascinated by theatre and drama and I often went to watch performances of all kinds.
The first time I witnessed a full Indian dance performance was not even in Hungary but in Central Asia in Uzbekistan (then part of the Soviet Union) at Registan square. I was a tourist there and – as it happened so many times in my life – I found something in a most unexpected place that later altered the course of my life.
By that time I was a student of Sanskrit at ELTE University of Budapest. My main interest was centered around Sanskrit drama and its performance.
What form of dance did you choose for yourself and why?
When I got the possibility to go to India and study whatever I fancied, I decided to study something practical, something that is not available in my country but has some vague connection with my acadamic studies. I was the holder of a scholarship granted to me by the Government of India in 1989 and I decided to study Bharatanatyam in Chennai (then still Madras) at Kalakshetra, College of Fine Arts. It was 1989 and I was 22 years old.
How do you correlate sports and dance?