The Dance of Creativity

by Merle O’Brien

Photo Courtesy: Debiprasad Sahoo

Photo Courtesy: Debiprasad Sahoo

 

As the fields of art and science move to a common space in the 21st century, creativity is taking centrestage in all fields of human endeavor, driving a new form of economy and redefining itself from an art into a lifescience.

Working as a Futurist at the forefront of creativity, design and front end innovation – while also being an Odissi danseuse, training in one of the world’s oldest forms of codified creativity, I see that the future of creativity looks remarkably similar to its most ancient past. If this holds true, Odissi may find itself becoming increasingly relevant as an educational technology for neuro-muscular entrainment to unlock human creative potential.

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From Proscenium to the Public: Alternative Spaces in Performance

by Ashwini Raghupathy

Photo Courtesy: Debiprasad Sahoo

Photo Courtesy: Ddebiprasad Sahoo

In April earlier this year, a video was uploaded on Youtube which created a furor that launched a barrage of discussions on social media which continue even today. The clip showed a dancer Aleksy Furdak, also known as Gaura Natraj Das, an American performing Bharatanatyam in a metro station in the USA. (http://www.southreport.com/classical-dance-in-new-york-subway/) ) This performance was not the first of its kind, as other dancers, including myself, have been exploring public spaces to present traditional Indian dances. Here you see another Bharatanatyam dancer, Jai Khalsa https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUBWtuxyiUQ, and here is a video featuring me which encapsulated a little of my work in this area : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_GCXHbycgd4)

While I personally have not spoken to the above-mentioned dancers, I have realised from my own experience that there will be detractors every time one challenges the status quo in any field. When I started to dance Odissi in the parks and streets of Bangalore. I received a fair share of criticism, some of which I have outlined here:

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Odissi: Exploring an Evolving Tradition

by Fatima Montero

Photo Courtesy: Debiprasad Sahoo

Photo Courtesy: Debiprasad Sahoo

Whatever remains unmentioned should be included into practice by experts from an observation of people – NS XXXVI, 83.

To this ending of the treatise Manomohan Ghosh very appropriately comments in his edition: “this shows that the author of the Sastra did not like to see drama eternally tied to his prescriptions.”
We learn and we teach. That is essence of being human: we have the ability to share our knowledge with the next generation, which is how civilizations have been built. This system will collapse if we neglect it, but it will also collapse if we do not add to it. Dances are the expression through the movement of the body. Dance needs music, decoration, emotions and ideas to express, but ultimately dance is movement. We should know what the essence of our art form is, keeping this in mind before modifying it and before criticizing others for modifying it. What exactly does Odissi need to be considered Odissi? What are the indispensable elements in our dance form that distinguishes it from the others? The elements that we cannot take away? What is its real essence? The first and main focus on our list must be attributes of movement.

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Independent Spirit: My Journey as a Solo Artist

by Ayona Bhaduri

Photo Courtesy: Debiprasad Sahoo

Photo Courtesy: Debiprasad Sahoo

Every competent artist, with a thirst for knowledge and a will to rid her art of parochialism and complacency, goes through a very significant and inevitable transitory phase from collective participation to individual pursuit; in case of a dancer, from working within an ensemble to venturing out as a soloist. I think a lot of it has to do with the dancer’s intellect. Beyond the physicality of the dance, when the mind begins to yearn for the ‘tripti’ or total satisfaction brought about by complete synergy of the mind, body and soul over and above the immediate trivial concerns of movement technique, when the ‘utsah’ of a movement stems from the emotion driving it so much so that the body feels just right at the said moment, in perfect harmony with the mind, in response to the ‘bhava’ initiating the movement, that is when the dancer intuitively knows that it is time and that she is ready to start her individual pursuit, searching both within and outside herself, to find her own personal vision that would define her art. Because every work of art ultimately becomes a true reflection of the artist herself.

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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)

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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.

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