By Jane D’Angelo, executive director of OhioDance
Mansee Singhi will be one of the choreographers and performers highlighted in the 2021 OhioDance Virtual Festival Concert, Saturday, May 1 at 7 p.m.
Jane: What brought you to Columbus, Ohio?
Mansee: I moved to Columbus in 2009 after I got married. I very quickly fell in love with the city because of its vibrant and humble culture. Having danced for 30 years now, I immediately connected with the diverse arts and have been able to immerse myself deeply.
Jane: Where did you live before moving to Columbus?
Mansee: I lived in Mumbai, India. Mumbai is also very dear to my heart for many reasons similar to Columbus. It is a melting pot of cultures and diversity as well. It is the city of creative opportunities and where I received my formal dance training in Kathak as well.
Jane: Can you tell us something about the classical Indian dance form that you practice, Kathak?
Mansee: Kathak is Indian classical dance that originated in the northern part of India during the Mughal era between the 16th and 18th century. The roots of this dance style have Persian influence and over time has been a syncretic genre adopting cultures from various societies of India. The essence of Kathak is “storytelling” where the practitioners or dancers are called “Kathakkars,” or storytellers, who share their narration through dance poses, gestures, facial expressions and footwork. There are many Gharanas or styles of Kathak. I practice styles of three Gharanas namely “Lucknow,” “Jaipur” and “Benaras.”
Jane: You enjoy collaborating with different artists that practice different artforms. Can you tell us something about these collaborations?
Mansee: Collaboration has been a key part of my journey. There is a lot of joy for me to step outside my comfort zone, think about the integrations of two or more different styles and experiment creations through the process. I believe that the vocabulary of dance styles varies but the rhythm and the beats are congenial to generate new themes and frameworks through collaborations. In the past, I have collaborated with tap dancers, musicians, singers and poets.
Jane: How has the pandemic affected your art?
Mansee: Like everyone, the pandemic took me by surprise and suddenly created a lot of chaos due to the unknowns of the situation. As a dancer, the idea of not performing on a stage for a while was certainly unsettling. Events, workshops, classes, interactions and collaborations started either cancelling or going online and I had to adapt like everyone else. Slowly, things started getting back in full speed but online and I now suddenly found myself even busier than before. I was now able to find time to learn, create and collaborate with other artists without worrying about location and time zones.
Jane: What is the best thing about the Columbus art scene?
Mansee: For me, the arts scene in Columbus is so vibrant, diverse, open, authentic and most importantly very humble. In my journey, I have met, interacted, collaborated with and studied with some amazing artists and musicians. I have been fortunate to be an integral part of the Columbus arts scene and look forward to supporting and growing this community.
The 2021 OhioDance Virtual Festival, April 30 — May 2, is an annual statewide celebration of dance through performances, films, demonstrations and discussions. Check out the schedule at ohiodance.org/festival/schedule/. Tickets can be purchased through Eventbrite at eventbrite.com/e/2021-ohiodance-virtual-festival-tickets-141304739279. Learn more about Mansee Singhi at manseesinghi.com.