Guru Bichitrananda Swain: Dance and Devotion

 
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Guru Sri Bichitranda Swain is a force to be reckoned with. Answering the call of his childhood dream, he immersed himself in dance despite great difficulty. As a result of his hard work, unrelenting drive and determination over the years, Guru Sri Bichitrananda Swain has emerged as one of the leading Odissi choreographers of his generation. His impressive body of work, spanning over two decades, reflects his depth, sensitivity and understanding of the art form and has earned international acclaim from dance critics and connoisseurs alike.

After having served as Principal of Orissa Dance Academy for many years, Guru Sri Bichitrananda Swain started his own institution, Rudrakshya, in 2003. Under the banner of Rudrakshya, he and his students have toured various cities throughout India, the USA, Canada, and Sri Lanka. A meticulous and highly sought-after teacher, Guru Bichitrananda Swain has trained a number of today’s leading soloists. Rudrakshya remains a home to many young aspiring male dancers who lack the financial means and support to pursue their dance training. Guru Bichitrananda Swain and his students have imparted training to hundreds of students both in India and abroad. During the course of a long tete-e-tete with Global Rasika, he very candidly shared his struggles and triumphs on the path of becoming who he is today.

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Nationality vs. Quality: The Foreigner Fixation in Odissi Dance

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Photo Courtesy: Maya Kabir

 

by Fatima Montero

India is the land where philosophy proclaimed in earlier times so ‘ham asmi andatman brahman and developed the most beautiful texts about the identification with the divine and oneness. We should remember this idea of unity and apply it to our arts. For decades now, artistes from around the world have learnt Odissi dance both in India and abroad. We owe our gratitude to brave women like Sharon Lowen and Ileana Citaristi, who came to Odisha under far more difficult circumstances to study this art form. We also owe our gratitude to Gurus of that generation who were open-minded-enough and who trusted and cared for their students, opening the gateway for so many of us in the process. Unfortunately, despite the decades that have passed since their arrival, the existence of non-Indian Odissi dancers in Odisha remains a novelty. It is absolutely normal that societies will experience a ‘culture shock’ when citizens from distant parts of the world come to their land. When this happens, there are different ways to manage it: confrontation, normal acceptance (integration) and a third way, which is the one that I think continued to exist in many regions of the world, and also in Odissi: surprise and exoticism

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