Monica Singh Sangwan is a Visharad (Master of Arts) in Odissi dance from Gandharva Mahavidyalaya, New Delhi.
Monica initially trained in Bharatnatyam for a period of twelve years and with her teacher performed and gained experience by accompanying her as a disciple to various parts of India.
Any artistic realization can only happen when the chosen medium of expression arises from the individuals own need to be in it. Bharatnatyam was a form chosen by Monica’s mother for her daughter, but after seeing a choreographic composition in Odissi ‘Sohamasmi “ by Mrs Madhavi Mudgal in 1988 Monica realized that she had finally found her medium, Odissi, with its haunting, beautiful music, graceful and fluid movements that bordered on the lyrical. An ancient dance form and yet so young and modern in its appeal.
Monica trained extensively with her for 15 years and gained immense experience and in depth knowledge about Odissi not just through its traditional form but also by being a part of the choreographic works based on exploring Odissi. She has travelled widely as a troupe member and as a soloist performing in her own right.
Monica was awarded the Sahitya Kala Parishad scholarship for Odissi 1997- 98 and the Indian Cultural Ministry of human resource development Scholarship for Odissi 1999-200
An artist’s cultural heritage and family background sometimes places the artist in a unique position to experience the subtle changes brought in the arts due to political conditions and changing times.
Monica started performing from the young age of 11 years. As her maternal side is Turkmen she has experienced traveling extensively in Turkmenistan during the time of Gorbechev’ s Perestroika, performing in Ashgabat, Mari, Cherzov, Titzen and several small collective farms of the former Soviet Union. Through these interactions she gained valuable experience and understanding of the need to make her art more accessible and open to people of all cultures without disrespecting her dance form and its aesthetics.
Since then Monica has travelled to and performed in France, Sweden, United Kingdom, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Vietnam, Laos, Nepal, Bangladesh, Russia, Australia etc.She has received great critical reviews from critics around the world for her poise and clean sensibility in the technique of odissi. Some of them:
- Never faltering in technique and dance profile Monica capped the foundational strength … Leila venkataraman Hindu April 2004
- Not just an instrumental delight
- The dancer Monica with her cool and non-aggressive stage presence is a delight to behold
- A polished dancer Monica can hold up a show with astonishing ease – Anjana Rajan the Hindu July 2008
- The brilliant foot work and controlled abhinaya are a joy to watch …Hindustan times ……….April 2008
Indian classical dance as a form is now standing at a very interesting cultural junction where it has to survive and grow with the modern world and not become obsolete and ancient in a negative way. Monica has felt the need to express her art keeping its form and boundaries intact and yet, to move into new spaces of free expression. To keep the artistic spirit alive within her Monica started experimenting in theatre and worked in several theatre productions enriching her artistic abilities.
Monica has worked in many schools Teaching Odissi as a specialty subject.
In 2003 Monica started the Sohamasmi centre for performing arts in Gurgaon India. IT now has two branches where students concentrate exclusively on odissi dance training.
She moved to Australia in 2010 after being recognised by the Australian Government as a distinguished talent and granted a permanent residency based solely on that skill… She now lives in Gisborne and teaches odissi.
She also teaches in the city of Melbourne at the prestigious studio DANCEHOUSE at north Carlton in Melbourne. She hopes to have a more multiracial student base here in Australia as she believes true art belongs to everyone irrespective of their cultural or ethnic background.
Sohamasmi Centre for performing arts a non-profit organization was founded by Monica in December 2010 and is working towards providing affordable art to the community by bringing highly skilled artists in to an intimate performing space there by increasing direct link between the artist and viewer . The Centre held its first season of Community shows Under the Name of Music Concert at Bundaleer. This was a six month long once a month series which featured artists Like Danny Spooner, Kavisha Mazzella, George Butrumalis, Wang Ting Zheng ,Kalapini Komkali and Noriko Tadano. A highly successful first season was much appreciated by the community. It also is beginning to play a role in collaborations between Indian and Australian artists.
Read more about Monica Singh at www.monicasingh.com