Dancing Through Life: Olivia's Journey in Classical Dance and Beyond


Today, we have the pleasure of sitting down with Olivia, a versatile artist hailing from Siliguri, India, whose creative journey spans the realms of classical dance, visual art, and the written word. With a childhood deeply rooted in Siliguri, Olivia has carried cherished memories that continue to shape their artistic identity.

Can you share a memorable moment from your childhood in Siliguri that has had a lasting impact on your life?

Olivia: My childhood itself contains a huge collection of both good and bad memories. There is actually not any incident that has a lasting impact on my life. But I would like to share a super sweet memory from my childhood. At that time I was in eighth standard. On my birthday, I distributed some chocolates among my classmates and the teachers. Surprisingly, the very next day, my physics teacher called me and gave me a big Cadbury chocolate. I was so much surprised at that time. Like I had never ever thought that my school teacher would give me a gift as a surprise for my birthday. That was totally unexpected for me. So, yeah, that is a very sweet memory to me.

What inspired you to start classical dance, and how has it shaped your identity and personal growth?

Olivia: I started learning classical dance from a very young age when I was only three years old. I started my journey in the world of dance with Kathak. As I grew older, the divine beauty of Bharatnatyam dance form started attracting me. Then I started learning Bharatanatyam also. Besides these two classical dance forms, I also do Bihu, Folk, Rabindra nritya, semi-classical, freestyle. Spending time in dance has taught me a lot to make my life better. Dance has taught me time management, discipline, dedication, creativity, teamwork, stress management. It has helped me a lot to overcome fears, to build up self-confidence, and to become self-dependent.

 Could you describe your favourite dance performance or choreography and the emotions it conveyed?

Olivia: I did a lot of stage performances since my childhood. I enjoyed each of them. Personally, I enjoy the rehearsal period more. Haha... Anyway, from my experiences last year in November, I did a choreography on a Bollywood song. It was a team dance. I think that is my favorite dance performance till now.

How do you find the balance between your roles as a classical dancer, artist, and writer? Do they ever overlap creatively?

Olivia: See when you do anything by passion or wholeheartedly it will never feel like a burden or stressful for you. Dancing, drawing, writing are all my hobbies as well as passions. I'm so passionate about them. I love dancing, drawing, writing from the bottom of my heart. Self-discipline is the most important thing in anybody's life to become successful. It's all about nothing but time management. When it's time for dance practice, I do that; when I need some refreshment, I start painting by playing with colours, when I need to make my mind stress-free, I write down whatever I feel. So it's all about managing everything properly and sequentially. That's it.

 You mentioned that writing is your way of expressing emotions. Can you share an example of a time when writing helped you navigate a challenging situation or emotion?

Olivia: Writing always helped me to overcome challenges. Last year in 2022, I had been suffering through a very tough situation. It was a very much struggling period for me. At that time, I had nobody to talk to. I had nobody to share my problems. Then I decided to write down everything in my diary and I started doing that. I can't even describe how much it helped me to overcome stress. I always write down whatever is going on in my life, whether it is good or bad, and that always helps me to free myself from the burdens in my mind.

 Tell us about one of the books you co-authored. What was the subject matter, and what motivated you to collaborate on it?

Olivia: Well, I've worked as a co-author on a total of thirteen different books. Among them, five books are in Bengali, and the rest are in English. If I talk about any one of them, then I would like to mention 'Voices of the Soul'. It is the very first book in which I worked as a co-author. My two poems 'THE BREEZE' and 'WE'LL TALK AGAIN' have been published there. THE BREEZE is a poem about nature, and WE'LL TALK AGAIN is a love poem. If I talk about motivation, then, for writers, getting their works published in printed form in books or magazines or publishing their solo books is the best gift. So, the desire to see my writings on books is the greatest motivation for me every time.

 Winning the Rabindranath Tagore Literature Award is a significant achievement. How did you feel when you found out you'd won, and what impact has it had on your writing career?

Olivia: It's an incredible honour for me to receive the Rabindranath Tagore Literature Award. The moment was so precious when I got to know that I won that. It was like, oh my God. I'm really blessed to achieve this. I won this award for my contribution in the field of literature. This honorable award has given me a unique identity as a young writer. It has helped me to step up one more stair in my journey to the world of literature.

Are there any specific themes or messages you like to explore in your writing, whether it's in English or Bengali?

Olivia: I write in both English and Bengali. Most of my poems are about love. I always try to show the actual reflection of life through my writings. In my love poems or short stories, I always try to bring out the feelings and incidents that happen in real life. There exist so many untold love stories, unexpressed feelings, and incomplete love stories. I love to work on them. People always give me positive feedback, and those feedbacks work as an energy booster for me every time.

 What are some of the most fascinating places you've traveled to, and how have these experiences influenced your perspective on life and creativity?

Olivia: Honestly, I didn't travel much in my life. My mom and dad both are government school teachers, so usually, they didn't get much leave so that we can travel a lot. When I was around seven years old, my mom got her posting at a school in Murshidabad district, West Bengal. We shifted there and lived there for three and a half years. While living in Murshidabad, I experienced a lot of things. I mean a lot. The culture, lifestyle, living conditions of people out there. After three and a half years, my mom got a permanent transfer to our hometown, and we came back home. On 2014, I visited Darjeeling with my family. It was a wonderful experience. Because I'm a mountain lover, for me those Darjeeling days were so much mesmerizing. We visited many places out there. Because hills are the neighbors of my hometown Siliguri, I always visit hilly areas like Mirik, Kurseong, Kalimpong whenever I get some time. Mountains always give me another level of peace. These are some experiences of my travel diary in a nutshell.

As a bookworm, do you have a favorite book that you often recommend to others? What makes it special to you?

Olivia: I've started my reading habit from a very young age when I was maybe twelve or thirteen years old. From the very beginning, I was a bookworm. As the years passed, this bookworm got much more addicted to books. Books are like drugs for me, books are chargers for me, books are home for me. "Pather Panchali" is my most favorite novel. It is written by Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay. This novel deals with the life of Roy family, both in their ancestral village in rural Bengal and later when they move to Varanasi in search of a better life, as well as the anguish and the loss they face during their travels. I can't even remember how many times I've read this novel repeatedly and how much I loved that every single time. There are two more books which I always suggest people to read — "Your Time Will Come" and "One day life will change." Both of these books are written by Saranya Umakanthan. These two are also among my most favorite books.

 Can you share an adventure or exploration experience that pushed you out of your comfort zone and taught you valuable lessons?

Olivia: Challenges will come and go forever in life. Despite that, we must have to make time especially for ourselves. I know it's very difficult to continue my extracurriculars during a tough time, but despite that, I always try to manage at least some time to nourish my inner self. Whenever I'm in stress, I just sit down with my drawing essentials and start playing with colors on a white paper. As an outcome, my mind automatically gets refreshed. I also maintain my regular diary. That really helps me to overcome challenges.

Are there any artists, dancers, or writers who have been particularly influential in your journey? If so, who and why?

Olivia: I'm truly inspired by Pandit Birju Maharaj sir. He was an Indian dancer, a master of the Kathak form, and a leading exponent of the Kalka Bindadin gharana of Lucknow.

 What are your future goals and dreams, both in your creative pursuits and in life as a whole?

Olivia: I always wanted to become a Doctor. It was my aim in life. Very fortunately, I'm pursuing my career in the medical field. I want to become a successful Doctor in the future to treat people, to help people, to make people live. If I talk about other fields, then I'm never gonna stop my creative journey in dance, art, and writing. I want to make myself more and more perfect in every field in every single aspect. Last but not the least, I've a very old wish to learn violin. I hope soon I could start learning it.

If you could offer one piece of advice to aspiring artists, writers, or dancers, what would it be?

Olivia: To all my buddy artists, writers, and dancers out there who are beginners or want to start their journey, I would like to welcome all of you to the creative world. I'll definitely suggest giving time to yourselves always because you are the one and only true friend of yours. No matter how tough situations come in your life, never even think of ending your dreams. Always stay motivated, make yourself happy, cherish your solitude, nourish your soul. Play with colours, play with music, play with words. You'll find a new reason to live your life to the fullest, that I can assure you.