Garima Sahatoo can be easily recognised as a dancer by her elegant poise and composure. Sahatoo, who started dancing from the age of eight, never thought her love for dance would become so strong. “Initially I liked to look at dance but I never liked to do it myself.” Her parents encouraged her to try it for a year, and the rest, as they say, is history. “They chose to send me to dance to learn more about my culture, and become a well rounded individual. They introduced me to that aspect of my life and it’s been quite a journey. One that would never end.” As an Indian classical dancer, Sahatoo practises a special type of dance called the Oddissi. This dance originated in the mid-north eastern coast of India and is a religious recital which is usually performed in temples.
Although similar to many of the Indian classical dances, Oddissi encompasses specific hand gestures, body movements and costuming. It is rigorous and its techniques are very intricate. She will be part of the Nritya Kala Sanskaar, also known as an East Indian dance graduation, which will be held on August 4, at the Naparima Bowl in San Fernando. Instead of walking up the aisle to receive a certificate, Sahatoo will be performing Oddissi dance pieces and techniques she learnt over the past 12 years under the guidance of her teacher Sandra Sookdeo. The 21-year-old has performed at many events, including at a function for a visit to T&T by the king and queen of Spain in 2008; at the 2010 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting; and at various functions at President’s house. “Each performance brings various experiences, each performance there is something unique. No two performances could ever be the same,” she said.
Her commitment to dance takes her from her San Fernando home to Cunupia every week to attend classes. “When you love something it doesn’t feel like a commitment anymore, it becomes part of who you are.” She says being a dancer, “takes dedication; its great avenue teaches you discipline about your culture, it teaches you about spirituality, dance is a language and gives all round fitness.” Sahatoo is a graduate of the University of the West Indies with a degree in Management and a minor in Economics and is presently pursuing studies in Indian classical music and the sitar at the Bhrartiya Vidya Sanshthhaan (BVS).
She says dance gives her that balance and time-management skills that helps her in her education and all round development.
“It’s in my veins,” she said, referring to her mother who once pursued dancing. “Its a family affair,” she said, since both her younger sisters are also involved in dance.