Editor’s Note

Photo Courtesy: Debiprasad Sahoo

Photo Courtesy: Debiprasad Sahoo

We are thrilled to present our fourth issue of Global Rasika, the online quarterly launched in 2014 to create a virtual platform for critical thinking, discussion, and debate across the Odissi community worldwide.

The theme for this issue, “Re-examining Pedagogy in Odissi Dance,” explores the changing landscape of pedagogy in Odissi. Technology, rising opportunity costs of pursuing a career in dance, and increasing aspiration/emancipation of dancers have altered the milieu in which this art is practiced. As a result, the skills required for Odissi practitioners to flourish today are substantively different from the skills required a decade earlier.

While the age of technology and rapidly changing social dynamics have expanded the possibilities for teaching and learning Odissi, the interplay of the predominantly performance-oriented mindset, the need of instant gratification, and the commodification of the dance form [‘buying’ and ‘selling’ items], have collectively translated into an empty, rote experience for the dancer, one that is void of any creative fulfillment. Students are often left feeling bereft not only of the intellectual breadth to contribute anything substantive to the enhancement of the art form, but also the practical skills to build their careers.

In this context, pedagogy is critical to consider when examining the future and longevity of Odissi. To ask vital questions of evolving a tradition and what are the elements required to do so. It is also important to ask whether the skills emphasized and imparted by dance schools and teachers reflect the changed skill sets required today.

In this issue our writers explore various dimensions of Odissi’s pedagogy: dance education in India, the Guru-Shishya Parampara tradition of learning, tensions between technology and teacher-based learning, and one’s personal experience in a holistic training process. We are elated to feature world-renowned dancer Bijayini Satpathy, who shares with us some of the pioneering work in dance education that Nrityagram has undertaken.

We would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to our contributors for this issue: Aastha Gandhi, Aadya Kaktikar, Shashwati Garaighosh, and Shreelina Ghosh – Thank you for your interest and enthusiasm on this topic, and for so generously sharing your expertise to make this issue a success. A very special thanks to Debiprasad Sahoo for contributing his images and for his continued support.

We would also like to once more thank you for being such loyal readers and supporters of Global Rasika. Please continue to read, share, and discuss the issues we bring forth, to build a dynamic, aware, and intellectually engaging Odissi community worldwide.

 

Sonali Mishra
Editor, Global Rasika
Bhubaneswar, Odisha
March 2015.

Bijayini Satpathy@Nrityagram: Classical Dance in a Contemporary Context

Photo Courtesy: Kartik Venkataraman

Photo Courtesy: Kartik Venkataraman

When Bijayini Satpathy first set foot in Nrityagram, the Odissi dance institute founded by the Late Protima Gauri Bedi, she knew there was no turning back. In her twenty-plus years at Nrityagram, she, along with famed dancer-choreographer Surupa Sen, have successfully crossed cultural and linguistic barriers to carve a niche for themselves in the international dance arena. Arguably one of the most sought after dance ensembles in the world, Nrityagram has worked extensively to explore and expand the pedagogy and dance vocabulary of Odissi, drawing upon various movement disciplines to inform their process and approach. Bijayini Satpathy, currently serving as Director of Training, shares with us her own personal journey at Nrityagram, her thoughts on Odissi, and Nrityagram’s approach to dance education.

[Read more…]

Dance Education in India: Some Issues and Questions

by Aadya Kaktikar

Photo Courtesy: Debiprasad Sahoo

Photo Courtesy: Debiprasad Sahoo

INTRODUCTION
India is a country that loves to dance. From festivals to films, dance is an integral part of our cultural heritage. A dance culture that is vibrant, diverse, multidimensional, and simultaneously old and new is the legacy of the youth of this country. Though dance had always been a part of the social life of the community in India, the last decade has seen major shifts in the way dance is produced and performed. It has traveled from once being a ‘morally corrupt’ profession, to a spiritual discourse, to a cause for social change. Once considered a ‘esoteric art,’ dance today has become the signifier of a socially mobile, globally aware, politically astute, media savvy, technologically advanced younger generation. [Read more…]

Pedagogy in Odissi: Multiple Voices, Multiple Perspectives

by Aastha Gandhi

Photo Courtesy: Debiprasad Sahoo

Photo Courtesy: Debiprasad Sahoo

 

Method of Teaching
Indian classical dance training is highly codified where students are mostly taught through a method of imitation of Guru’s demonstrations. The explanation of technical manoeuvring of the body depends on the teacher’s proficiency in technique; the core process involves imitation with a few guidelines and instructions. If not explained consciously, the techniques of weight- shift, balance, movement and division of body are imbibed through the unquestioned process of imitation. Abhinaya pieces are explained along with anecdotes and stories to make the theme clearer, seldom followed by discussions around the chosen story. Understanding of the body, and the form comes with one’s own practice; riyaaz, emphasized during the training period. “Angasuddhi” (purity of movement) and “saustabha” (purity of body line) become the defining criteria of one’s technical expertise over the form. (Chatterjee, 1996; 74- 75)

[Read more…]

I Learned to Live Dance

by Shashwati Garaighosh

hand-on-heart-2

I hail from a family of artists: My father is a sculptor, my mother paints, and my brother is an architectural sculptor. Growing up, I was surrounded by canvas, paint, brushes, stone, wood, chisels… the list goes on. Born into a family of artists, it was never an option not to be interested in art. It was both nature and nurture. As a little girl, I was quite convinced that I would grow up to either paint or sculpt like my parents. Alongside, dance (Odissi) was my constant companion — an after­ school hobby that I really enjoyed.

[Read more…]

E-Learning from E-Gurus: The Tradition-Technology Tension in Odissi Pedagogy

Dr. Shreelina Ghosh

hand-mudra-3

This article attempts to explore the duality of technology-enhanced teaching and traditional teaching of dance in digital spaces. Classical dances are set on a grammar constructed by a series of myths regarding this ancient practice that were formulated and transmitted through the generations orally. Divinity associated with classical dance inspires the quest for pristine perfection and rooted-ness to age-old tradition. This is the concept of performance that I have grown up with. Coming to know about and experiencing performance in a virtual space made me re-think some of the vital elements in my definition and understanding of performance. Digital technology has had a profound influence on the foundational notions of this art. It is necessary to re-evaluate the ideas associated with traditional pedagogy in a continuously ‘virtualizing’ performance space.

[Read more…]

Re-Examining Pedagogy in Odissi Dance: Contributors March 2015

Aastha Gandhi is an independent performance researcher and a dancer, following Guru Surendranath Jena style of Odissi. She researched on Odissi dance, its historiography, practice and problems within the established parampara, as part of her M. Phil dissertation (2006- 2008), Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Her subsequent work has been published in Conference Proceedings of WDA- Global Summit, “Dance Dialogues: conversations across cultures, artforms and practices” Brisbane (2009) and WDA’s Journal of Emerging Dance Scholars (2013). She is also an active member of World Dance Alliance and has participated in its various festivals in different capacities; master class trainer, paper presentation and performance at its various festivals in Hong Kong (2006), Australia (2008) and France (2014). She also performed in Japan as a part of a month- long cultural exchange programme (2008).Her current area of research engages with city space and its evolving metaphors of performance, at scholarly as well as performance level. She can be reached at aastha.odc@gmail.com

Shashwati Garaighosh is an Odissi dancer groomed as a soloist under Smt. Sharmila Biswas. She received her Masters from Rabindra Bharati University in Kolkota. Currently the lead dancer at the Odissi Vision and Movement Center, (OVM), the Odissi dance institute founded by Smt. Sharmila Biswas, Shashwati also serves as the Rehearsal Supervisor and Head Instructor for dance trainees at OVM. She is the first recipient of the Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra Yuva Pratibha Samman. She has also received the Shringar Mani award, Odissi Jyoti award , Nalanda Nritya  Nipuna Award. Shashwati has also received National Scholarship from the Ministry of Culture, Government of India. Shashwati founded her own Odissi dance institute, ‘Angashuddhi’ in Kolkota. She can be reached at shashwatigg@gmail.com

Dr. Shreelina Ghosh is a professor of English/Professional & Technical Communication at Dakota State University. She earned her PhD in Rhetoric and Writing from Michigan State University. Shreelina’s research interests mostly center around the intersections of cultural and digital rhetoric and performance. Her current research examines the use of technology as a tool for online and hybrid learning. Her study reveals the relationship between traditional and online teaching, and the impact of mediation on pedagogic practices. Shreelina is a disciple of Guru Aloka Kanungo and has practiced the art of Odissi for over thirty years. Shreelina can be reached at shreelinaghosh@gmail.com

Aadya Kaktikar An Odissi dancer, teacher and performer, Aadya works at the crossroads of contemporary education practices and traditional dance pedagogy. She is also the author of ‘Odissi Yaatra’ which documents the reconstruction of Odissi in the culturally vibrant years of the 40s, 50s and 60s.  Currently pursuing her Masters in Teaching Dance at the Royal Academy of Dance London, Aadya is an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Education and Arts Design and Performing Arts in the Shiv Nadar University. She can be reached at aadya.n.17@gmail.com

Debiprasad Sahoo is budding photographer based in Bhubaneswar with a passion for Odissi dance. He is also a web application developer and entrepreneur by profession. His photography page can also be found Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DebiprasadSahooPhotography. He can be reached at debiprasad.s@gmail.com