Dr. Ileana Citaristi’s Search for Meaning

Photo Courtesy: Avinash Pasricha

Photo Courtesy: Avinash Pasricha

Decades ago, Italian-born Dr. Ileana Citaristi yearned for unrestrained expression and traveled to India in search of self-discovery. In the years that followed, she metamorphosed from a free-spirited hippie to a classical dancer of international repute. After having trained in Odissi under the legendary Guru Sri Kelucharan Mohapatra, Dr. Ileana Citaristi has since made Odisha her home.  She has established herself both nationally and internationally as a performer, scholar, choreographer and organiser. Dr. Citaristi founded her Bhubaneswar-based dance institute, Art Vision, in 1996. She has earned many awards and accolades for her work, including the prestigious “Padmashree” award by the Government of India in 2006. Dr. Citaristi’s most recent book, an autobiography aptly titled My Journey, A Tale of Two Births, published in 2015, candidly tells her story of transformation. We are happy to have had a chance to sit with Dr. Citaristi as she shared her life and experiences with us.

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Rekha Tandon on Odissi: New Metaphors, New Meanings

Photo Courtesy: Robyn Beeche

Photo Courtesy: Robyn Beech

Dr. Rekha Tandon has successfully carved her own path as a dancer, writer, researcher, and choreographer. Having undergone years of rigorous training in Odissi, her desire to find her individual voice as an artist led her to delve deeper into the study of dance and movement. She was awarded of the Charles Wallace Arts Fellowship (UK), and a UNESCO Artists’ Bursary Award for further studies at the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London, where she was awarded her PhD in 2005. Her thesis focused on examining Odissi from the perspective of Choreological Studies. Dr. Tandon, along with her partner, Michael Weston, founded their company Danceroutes in 1997, under which they collaborated on a number of groundbreaking projects and initiatives including (but not limited to) the Danceroutes Repertory Group, KAI (Knowledge-Arts-Initiatives) Trust, and the book Odissi: A Dance in Sculpture, which was published in 2011. They have also conducted extensive research in related aspects of Odissi dance. Dr. Tandon currently resides in Pondicherry, where she has recently completed a manuscript called “Petals of the Lotus-Background, Technique and Embodiment of Odissi Dance,” which is expected to be published this year. Dr. Tandon shares with us her journey as a creative artist, as well as her insights on Odissi.

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Portrait of the Artist: Guru Smt. Aruna Mohanty

Photo Courtesy: Shantanu Das

Photo Courtesy: Shantanu Das

Guru Smt. Aruna Mohanty has the unique distinction in the Odissi fraternity to operate par excellence on multiple levels – performer, teacher, choreographer, administrator, and organizer. A master strategist, she continues to keep a pulse on the broader trends of the dance world, as reflected in her work. Guru Smt. Aruna Mohanty’s global outlook, combined with her sensitivity to local issues, has made her a thought leader in the field, and was the most obvious choice for this issue’s featured artist. She has earned numerous accolades for her contribution to Odissi to include: the Mahari Award (1997), Sanjukta Panigrahi Memorial National Award (2001), Fellowship by Ministry of HRD, Government of India, and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Puraskar Award in 2010. She also served as vice-president of the Odisha Sangeet Natak Academy. Currently Director of Orissa Dance Academy, Guru Smt. Aruna Mohanty shares her views on the changing landscape of Odissi dance over the years:

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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.

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Guru Sri Ratikant Mohapatra: Finding Your Path, and Finding the Pearl

Photo Credit: Arabinda Mahapatra

Photo Credit: Arabinda Mahapatra

Guru Sri Ratikant Mohapatra, the only son of Odissi legend Guru Sri Kelucharan Mohapatra and Smt. Laxmipriya Mohapatra, has carved a niche for himself as one of Odissi’s leading Gurus, choreographers, percussionists, and organizers. He is currently the director of Srjan [Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra Nrityabasa] in Bhubaneswar, and continues to travel throughout the world to impart training in Odissi. He is the key advisor to San Francisco-based Guru Shradda, and has lent his knowledge and expertise to dance practitioners throughout the world. Some of his awards include: “Pride of India 2004,” “Sanjukta Panigrahi Samman 2005,” and “Nrutya Bhushan,” by the International Dance & Theatre Festival 2005. In 2006, he choreographed and directed an Odissi presentation at Kalinga Stadium featuring 550 Odissi dancers from around the world, which was entered in the Guinness Book of World Records. Today he shares with Global Rasika his life experiences with Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra, finding his own path as an artist, and the current trends in Odissi. [Read more…]

January’s Journey: Confessions of a Dancer

Photo Courtesy: Karthik Venkataraman

Photo Courtesy: Karthik Venkataraman

Global Rasika had a chance to speak with the exquisite January Low, former principle dancer of Malaysia-based Sutra Dance Theater founded by eminent Dance Artiste, Ramli Ibrahim. January initially began her dance training in ballet, and then Bharatanatyam and Odissi. She ultimately concentrated her efforts solely on Odissi as the years passed. She has performed widely as a soloist and as part of Sutra Dance Theater’s repertory group. In 2003 she was presented with the Kakiseni Award for best Solo Performance. In 2009 she was accepted to the Asia-Africa Dance Exchange hosted by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Korea. After years of touring and performing, January refocused her energies for another important role – that of wife and mother. Today January shares her professional and personal journey with us:

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Madhusmita on Odissi: Past, Present & Future

Photo of Dimple Apa

Photo Courtesy: TBA

We are delighted to have had the opportunity to sit down with Smt. Madhusmita Mohanty, recipient of the 2014 Mahari Award by the Guru Pankaj Charan Das Odissi Research Foundation. Nurtured in an artistic environment, Madhusmita was groomed as a soloist under Gurus Sri Gangadhar Pradhan, Smt. Aruna Mohanty, and Sri Bichitrananda Swain. She has performed widely in India and abroad as a soloist and as part of the Orissa Dance Academy Repertory group. For her commitment and excellence in dance, Madhusmita has also been awarded the Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar and the Padmashree Sanjukta Panigrahi Pratibha Samman. Having been involved in dance from an early age, Smt. Madhusmita Mohanty shares her thoughts on Odissi, drawing from her personal experience. [Read more…]