Sunayana Sharma and her Journey: Sunayana Sharma has dedicated 18 years of her life to Kathak. But it wasn’t just her natural ability that set her apart – it was her unwavering dedication to the art form. Her Kathak gurus’ strictness baffled her from an early age. Disciple of the Late Kathak Samrat Padma Vibhushan Pt. Birju Maharaj, Sushree Saswati Sen, and Pt. Jai Kishan Maharaj, Sunayana discovered that one needs to have faith in their mentors and practice patience, perseverance, devotion, and discipline in order to flourish in classical art forms like Kathak.
“We began to perspire at just one guru’s look. A few months later, I had my first acknowledgment from my guru. I clearly recall his announcement, “Whose child is she?” in front of several parents who had gathered outside the class. My guru continued, “We want her and more children like her,” when my parents came forward. In just one year, I received two promotions, and by the end of my first year, I was grading exams alongside third-year students” she says.
Sunayana is a national-level Kathak practitioner and has established the renowned Kathak dance school Natwaradha. Natwaradha’s main objective is to spread and promote the Lucknow Gharana Style of Kathak while also introducing students and audiences around the world to the rich history of Indian classical dance. The institute is committed to passing on to future generations the knowledge of Kathak. In order for them to continue this lineage in the future, the ultimate goal is to not only produce more Kathak performers but also to teach them how to become outstanding instructors. With students travelling from all over the world to study under Sunayana Sharma and her staff of knowledgeable instructors, Natwaradha has developed a reputation for excellence in the field of Kathak dance. In addition to assisting students in honing their talents and understanding of this ancient art form, the institute is committed to creating a deep appreciation for the complexity and beauty of Kathak
Alumni of ‘Kalashram’, Sunayana credits the love and encouragement of her family, her teachers, and the art form for her achievement. Talking about the same, she says, “My heart beats with a fervent passion for Kathak, kindled by the unwavering support of my loved ones. Though the path has not been without obstacles, I reflect on the tireless dedication of my gurus, the patient tutelage of my father, and the unwavering commitment of my mother, who waited tirelessly for me during my rehearsals for the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony. Despite the gruelling 12-hour practice sessions, I never once thought of giving up, for the flames of my ardour burned bright and steadfast. To them, and to my own unwavering perseverance, I owe it all.” In February 2023, Sunayana performed a magnificent solo recital in the presence of Sushree Droupadi Murmu, the Hon’ble President of India, at the prestigious Brahmakumaris Om Shanti Retreat Center.
Talking about the challenges in her journey Sunayana states, “For the past 18 years, the weight issue has been a persistent challenge for me. Although I feel comfortable in my own skin, the incessant remarks from people about my weight can be demoralising. Even professional productions seem to discriminate against me based on my physical appearance. Sometimes, even my own mother’s playful jests about my weight leave a mark on me. Despite all this, I am not one to wallow in self-pity. I am actively taking charge of my life by adhering to a diet plan, exercising regularly, and practising meditation for a healthier state of mind.”
Sunayana is the epitome of the saying that “Kathak is not just a dance form. It is a journey through the expressions of the human soul.” By encouraging the students to embark on this path of perseverance and diligence, Sunayana and her institute hope to make a substantial contribution to the popularity and likeability of this art form.