Bhopal(Madhya Pradesh): It is said that one should begin learning dance, especially classical, from an early age, preferably when one is a child. But when Kala Raj Jogchand started learning Kathak, she was 53, a grandmother.
Now, 58, a teacher at Government High School, Bairagarh, not only dances for an hour everyday but has also completed her five-year-old diploma in Kathak from Prayag Sangeet Samiti, Prayagraj, and is planning to pursue post graduation. More importantly, she credits dance with having saved her life when she contracted Covid-19 during the second wave of the pandemic. She lives with her husband, a retired police sub-inspector, and two sons and their families at Fortune Estate, Kolar Road.
“I had interest in dance since my childhood but my parents didn’t allow me to pursue it. They believed that dancing was bad for girls,” she has told Free Press.
Kala Raj Jogchand, teacher at Government High School, Bairagarh | FP
Kala came in contact with Rakhi Dubey, a Kathak dancer of the Raigarh Gharana about 15 years back while going around the area for making voter ID cards as part of her duty. “At her studio, I saw small kids learning dance and I was so mesmerised that I kept visiting the place for 10 years,” she says.
It took her a decade to gather the courage to tell Rakhi her desire to learn dance. The Kathak Guru encouraged her saying that there is no age for learning anything. She proved to be a passionate and hardworking student. “I was surprised to see her dedication to dance at this age,” says Rakhi.
During the second wave of Covid-19, Kala contracted the infection and was in an ICU for 17 days. After discharge from the hospital, she was on oxygen support at her home for a month and then had to spend another five months confined to bed.
“It was dance that helped me survive the ordeal. In the hospital, I used to repeat Padhant, Taal and Taali in my mind and attended online dance classes,” she says. Once Kala regained strength it was back to the dance studio and regular practice sessions.