They say that a woman is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform. There are few women with such incredible stories that will make you get inspired with every moment of their lives. One such story is of Smt Guru Priti Vora. Her journey in the field of Bharatnatyam began at the age of 15 wherein she decided to start her own institution at a young age and in due course of time, her Kalamandir Institution of Fine Arts became a one large family wherein she has taught about 4000 students till now.
Her institution achieves a milestone of 40 years this year, which could not have been successful without her hard work and determination. From performing her Arangetram at the age of 15 without any adequate backing to donating her kidney to her husband, Guru Priti Vora has overcome every obstacle in her mission to impart the knowledge of this dance form to others.
Her inclination towards Bharatnatyam began from an early age where she started showing signs of a promising dancer when she used to perform at various functions in her society. She tells us during an interview, " I was four years old when I started performing in my school annual functions and society get together. I started with simple dance forms but I started learning the classical dance form Bharatnatyam from the age of 10 from my Guru Shri MaNi of Kalasadan. I learnt it till the age of 15 and then performed my Bharatnatyam Arengetram." Her Arengetram story is also a tale to remember.
Recalling the incident she said, " I remember i had a partner for my Arengetram performance. As my parents found the fees too high, we thought it will be good if I share the stage with another girl so that the cost gets divided too, but unfortunately, at the last moment she backed out. My father gathered the amount for my performance by publishing the advertisements and souvenirs for the performance. It was a difficult situation when I was left alone without my partner but still I had the confidence and my parents assured that they will manage the amount for it. But nevertheless, the event was a huge success, I still remember, the hall was full and I could pull off the Naag Nritya (snake dance) and the Kurvanji (gypsy dance). First time in my life, I performed for some two and a half hours on the stage alone."
Priti Vora soon started teaching at the age of 15 with just one student. She said, "My family encouraged me to start teaching from the age of 15 which I started with one student. But soon several girls started to join in when they heard that a Gujarati girl is teaching Bharatnatyam at home, so people were not worried to send their daughters to me. I started the class on 7th July, 1979. I still remember my Guruji's words, he said that the knowledge of Bharatnatyam is like a vast ocean and you still don't even have half the knowledge of it so are you sure you want to start teaching? I told him, I will continue learning Bharatnatyam, but, want to start teaching so that I myself can retain this knowledge."
Smt Priti Vora is also a recipient of the Guinness World Records. She and her students along with other dance troupes performed Bharatnatyam for 12 minutes in an event in Kolhapur which recorded the largest number of performers. She also received the Mayor Award and the Nari Shakti Award for her contribution in the field of culture and dance on the occasion of Women's Day. She has trained about 4000 students from a diverse age group and professions and some of them are even sending their own children to her academy now.
She has also choreographed around 150 Arengetrams for her students wherein she also offers them crash courses to prevent an extravagant expense for their Arengetram performance. The 25th year of her institution was celebrated by the Arengetram of her daughters Nritya Visharad Mrs. Ishani Vora Sanghvi (CA) and Nritya Visharad Dr. Jhanvi Vora Hemani (Md. Anesthetist).
Her inspirational journey does not stop here. Priti Vora now has just one kidney, having donated the other to her husband when he suffered from a kidney failure. She said," My husband has been my biggest support system in my journey, so when our life hit a roadblock when I learnt that he has undergone a kidney failure, I was not hesitant to donate my kidney. The only fear was if I'll be able to perform again? but soon, I found that I was able to dance fluently after 5-6 months with some hard work. I was called to perform at the Hinduja Hospital on World Kidney Day as an example to the present patients, doctors and dignitaries that you can continue dancing even after such a physical restraint. "
Her spirit of winning life with all love and passion not only for her family but also for her passion was acknowledged and appreciated by the starlet Dia Mirza, music composer Shantanu Moitra and lyricist Swanand Kirkire.
The ever positive Priti Vora now wishes to expand her Kalamandir family into a recognized institution. She says, "My dream is now to acknowledge my institution from the government. Its already affiliated but the government now should acknowledge my syllabus. I'm trying to contact the Cultural Minister but so far I haven't found any luck. My vision is to begin a dance college where I can impart all kinds of classical dance forms to the students."
On a concluding note, when we quipped her on the importance of dance in her life, she said, "Dance is my life. Its a supreme type of Yoga, it kills depression, its the biggest painkiller. You can be always happy with dance." Through a poem, she recites to us, that if you never leave a classical dance form, even if life throws a huge problem in your way, you will always win in that. She finishes off with words we can swear by wherein she says I have lived more years of my life through dance and would continue doing so until I'm alive.
For updates follow KIFA on Social Media
Below are the details for enquiries and admissions at Kalamandir Institute of Fine Arts
Guru Priti Vora
202, Raji chs, R.B Mehta Road, Ghatkopar (W)