At the age of two, Sunena Gupta was diagnosed with Alopecia – an autoimmune disorder that can lead to complete hair loss on the scalp.
Growing up, kathak was a constant in her life that gave her a safe space.
“Everyone tells you that at least hair loss doesn’t stop you from doing any activities, but the reality is that you rarely ever feel emotionally strong enough,” Gupta said. She quit her basketball team, stopped attending club meetings, and distanced herself from some friends. But thankfully she found her dance guru, “who made me believe that I can get on that stage and dance despite my hair”.
Dance allowed her to express herself and connected her to her roots in India. It also gave her the wings to carry Singapore’s rich and multi pluralistic heritage to the United States, where she is currently pursuing her degrees in politics and economics at the University of California, Berklee.
“'Umeed - Colours of Hope’ is my first production where I use my love of Kathak to tell not only my own story, but a story of everyone's personal battles with self-image, chronic illness or mental health,” said 20-year-old Gupta.
In Singapore, kathak is not as commonly showcased in Singapore as other Indian dance forms. Gupta hopes that this production will be an opportunity for the Singaporean community to see this unique dance form, and to accustom them to the diversity and creativity that comes along with it.
'Umeed - Colours of Hope’ will be staged at the PGP Hall on August 18, 2018. All proceeds from the show will be donated to Project Smile, which empowers women who are going through challenging situations in life.
Purchase your tickets here.