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Celebrating womanhood through art

23Arno Kamolika is an expatriate Bangladeshi classical dancer (based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada) who has taken Bharatnatyam as her forte. An alumnus of BUET (Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology), she further studied History of Art and Architecture at University of British Columbia and worked there as a Research Assistant. In a recent interview with The Daily Star, Arno shared her views on International Women’s Day.

How do you celebrate freedom and womanhood in your artistic perseverance?

Arno: As a Bharatanatyam dancer, celebrating womanhood has been an essential part of my artistic journey. In Indian classical dance, we dancers often tell a story from a Nayika’s (heroine) perspective. The protagonist is always in a conversation with another being, whether it is her beloved, child, friend or a divine being. The storytelling brings forward her happiness, pathos, love, jealousy, struggle, in other words, the rasa or different states of mind that she experiences in an otherwise patriarchal society. Classical dance becomes a language for the woman who has always been taught to be silent about expressing her feelings in this male dominated world, thus it also becomes a tool for her freedom.

How is International Women’s Day significant to you as a classical dancer?

Arno: In our society, women are still somewhat invisible in a number of ways. Recognising a day to acknowledge their contribution to the society (instead of indulging into cheap consumerism) might help to increase the voice and visibility of marginalised women, and that will surely help women from all professions.

Tell us about the world you aspire for?

Arno: I dream of a world that allows everyone to hold their unique identities, and to exercise their freedom of expressions and preferences; a world where a woman will no more need to prove how strong she is and a man won’t fear of being judged before expressing his vulnerability; a world that accommodates exploration of seemingly opposing ideas and views without any urge to react violently.