Alaknanda Das The Kathak Genius Who Danced Through Cancer

Alaknanda Das: The Kathak Genius Who Danced Through Cancer

Success Stories Women

“Katha kahe so Kathak Kahalave” (one who narrates a story is known as Kathak), Alaknanda Das utters the very first line when we ask her “Why Kathak?” She says, “Each of us has a story. It’s a story of journey. We start with a blank page, scripting our stories. Kathak became my story.” This is the story of an unstoppable Kathak performer, who devoted herself to this classical dance form since the age of 4. One who refused to let cancer stand in her way, of performing on stage. The gesture of her arms and the movement of her eyes can leave anyone mesmerized. 

You Don’t Choose The Art, Art Chooses You 

Kathak for Alaknanda is not just dance, it’s an expression of emotions and storytelling. Kathak, over these years, has become a medium for her to showcase her journey to the world. 

Her love for Kathak began when she was only four years old. In her family, she is the first person to learn Kathak. This is surprising because her mother has a doctorate in management and her father is a music director. One day, she saw Pandit Birju Maharaj ji perform at Kamani. She told her mother that she wanted to learn Kathak. Following Maharaj ji’s advice, she started learning Kathak at Kathak Kendra when she was six. Her teachers were Shrimati Reva Vidyati Ji and Bharti Gupta Ji.

As she continued, Alaknanda got to dance in shows with Pandit Birju Maharaji. To improve her skills, she learned more from Guru Munalal Shuklaji and spent almost 14 years at Kathak Kendra. 

When She Didn’t Let Cancer Come Her Way

Alaknanda fought with Ovarian Cancer like a true fighter. She even performed at the events and shows during the chemo sessions. Undoubtedly there happens to be a hidden secret, one woven with elements of madness and craziness for Kathak. She perceives each day as an opportunity to live, embrace and celebrate life. Each of us is blessed to be born as a human being with a thoughtful mind and a compassionate heart. 

“In the first place, I didn’t tell anybody I had a lump. I went for my show ‘Maharas’ on 7 May 2022. After the show, I told my parents about this. After checking, it was deemed Cancer. So, I had to go for the second surgery. I took it as a viral fever,” shares Alaknanda. “I believe God has given me today, and if I wake up tomorrow, I will utilise the day to celebrate the breath I am taking, the sight I am seeing, the sounds I am hearing, and the dance that is there with me.”

When Bald and Beautiful Redefined Self-Acceptance

Alaknanda Das

Amid her Chemo sessions, Alaknanda’s performance at an event on ‘Chhaap Tilak’ went viral where she boldly danced with a bald head, which redefined the meaning of self-acceptance. 

She says, “In the artistic community, we say looks matter. However, this is not true. What matters is inner beauty. You should be happy with yourself and accept yourself the way you are. When you do that, the society automatically accepts you. At that time, my dance was not my hair; my dance was my soul. I always dance with my soul. I showed my bald head to inspire others. I don’t want to present something fake in front of my audience. I wanted to be honest with them. I  wanted to show my true self. If people accept me, I am blessed, and if they don’t, it doesn’t matter because I am happy with myself.”

Alaknanda advises people to focus on what is right rather than on what is wrong with them. Upon waking, the focus should be on making constructive use of the day. For those battling with life-threatening diseases or any challenges, the wisest choice is to divert the mind and engage in activities you are passionate about. 

In her words, Alaknanda shares, “When I was fighting cancer, I picked up cooking and continued dancing. I did gardening too. When I saw the butterflies and hummingbirds coming in, it boosted my mood. All through my life, I have learnt that little efforts make positive changes. Everyone should look at the positive side of life.”

And She Rose From The Ashes

Alaknanda Das Kathak

Alaknanda has faced tough times but she refuses to let anything bring her down. Dance is her best friend which always lifts her spirits. Her life is made beautiful by her students, friends, and family. In every situation, she looks for the good things around her. She’s excited about her upcoming show, ‘Chandini,’ on May 11 at Kamani Auditorium. The show is about women in love, and exploring different aspects of it. She believes that to share love with others, you must first love yourself. She’s also looking forward to her international show in the near future. She aims to do her best to stay happy and celebrate the beautiful life she has.

Message From Alaknanda Das

Always prioritise yourself. Focus on the three P’s. First is Peace – find peace within yourselves. Second is Passion– if you are passionate about your work, you will always stay happy. If your work is your passion, you are blessed. Third, Please invest in yourself– Find the right medical insurance to afford the best medical care. 

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