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Monika Santra – the village girl matching her dance steps to dream big - GetBengal story

3 November, 2023 16:53:56
Monika Santra – the village girl matching her dance steps to dream big - GetBengal story

Monika Santra, aka Moni

Dreams, those ethereal whispers of hope and ambition, are the lifeblood that courses through the veins of humanity. Regardless of the challenges we face or the trials that befall us, it is our dreams that illuminate the darkest corners of our existence, guiding us towards a better tomorrow. In the heart of Gangadharpur village nestled in the Chanditola block of Hooghly district, resides a beacon of inspiration named Monika Santra, affectionately known as Moni, whose story embodies the extraordinary power of dreams.

From her tender years, Moni harboured an unwavering passion for dance, a flame kindled amidst the humble surroundings of her lower middle-class family. Despite the financial constraints, she fervently pursued her love for dancing, participating zealously in her school's cultural events. Under the tutelage of Shubhankar Ghosh, a student of the renowned dancer Mamata Shankar, Moni honed her skills in classical dance. Yet, her journey was not without its share of hurdles. The disapproval of neighbours and the scepticism of village locals cast shadows on her dancing dreams. At one point, the weight of societal judgment forced her to stop her beloved art form. However, her spirit remained unbroken; she kept on trying her best, balancing her academic pursuits with her fervent desire to dance.

After eight years of dance lessons, Moni found herself at crossroads, her dreams seemingly eclipsed by the harsh realities of life. But true passion knows no defeat. Moni's love for dance turned into a noble mission—to share her knowledge with others. Thus, the "Shohochori Dance Academy" was born, a group where dreams found their way. Under the able guidance of Moni, individuals aged 3 to 23 could learn dancing and enjoy dance as an art. The academy, born out of Moni's unyielding determination, provided dance lessons to the village children, charging only a nominal fee.

Students of Monika Santra's "Shohochori Dance Academy"

Moni's journey with Shohochori Dance Academy was marked by resilience and dedication. The initial performances, humble in scale, paved the way for a remarkable odyssey. Through 25 stage performances at various events, the academy carved a name for itself within Gangadharpur village. Despite the challenges, Moni's unwavering commitment to her students shone brightly. She taught dance lessons on her terrace, in the village fields and farmlands, these were the only places where she could teach them the art as she could not find a classroom for them.

Moni’s performances transcended the confines of tradition, daring to venture into uncharted territories. One such groundbreaking performance was her rendition of "Ami Banglay Gaan Gai," a song devoid of the conventional beats that typically accompany dance routines. Moni's choice reflected her willingness to step beyond the comfort zone, showcasing her students and the audience the boundless possibilities within the art of dance.

The meticulousness with which Moni approached her craft was reflected in her choice of songs, costumes, and choreography. Every dance piece, a masterpiece in its own right, bore the mark of her elegant touch. Beyond her artistic brilliance, Moni's heart embraced the spirit of benevolence. Some students, unable to afford the nominal fee, received dance lessons free of charge. In her eyes, dance was not a commodity to be bought but an art to be cherished. Dedication and passion, she believed, were the only currencies that mattered within the realm of art.

Moni's impact extended far beyond just dance. She became a pillar of support for her family, caring for her elderly parents with unwavering devotion. In her community, she assumed roles of responsibility, orchestrating events like the Saraswati Puja with grace and efficiency. Compassion, the driving force behind her actions, led her to extend a helping hand to the economically and mentally disadvantaged individuals, offering them a chance at a better life.

The accolades and recognition that Shohochori Dance Academy garnered were not merely tokens of appreciation but testaments to Moni's indomitable spirit and her unwavering dedication to her art and her community. The dream that Moni dared to chase against all odds was not just about dancing—it was about resilience, compassion, and the boundless possibilities of the human spirit. As her story unfolds, it serves as a reminder that dreams, against the harshest realities, can indeed come true. Moni's story is a testament to the transformative power of dreams, igniting hearts and inspiring generations to reach for the stars, no matter how distant they may seem.

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