From Performer to Performeur….Creativity with Prosperity

by Srijat Mishra

Photo Courtesy: Global Rasika

Photo Courtesy: Global Rasika

 

A classical dancer, or for that matter any classical performing artist’s life, is generally is fraught with economic uncertainties. This will remain until the public at large doesn’t pay to watch classical performances. In our fast-food world of instant gratification, spiritually uplifting classical performances are far behind the pecking order. This trend is inevitable; despite the classical performer lending strength to a critical dimension of the society – i.e. aesthetics – India, in large sections, remains in survival mode or hygiene living. Food, housing, education and health continue to monopolize the household budget. Entertainment also has its small share of the wallet, but it is largely limited to Bollywood, Cricket (or other sports) & reality shows, with TV serving as the primary medium. [Read more…]

Finding My Destiny in Dance

by Manishikha Baul

Photo Courtesy: Debiprasad Sahoo

Photo Courtesy: Debiprasad Sahoo

 

Life is the dancer and you are the dance” – Eckhart Tolle. I am Manishikha, an Odissi dancer and a global nomad.

Growing up: Born and brought up in India (Delhi and Kolkata) my journey as a dancer began at the age of eight under Shrimati Sutapa Talukdar. My mother, a lecturer in Russian language & member of Nichiren’s philosophy of Buddhism, walked me into Sutapa Di’s class on a pouring evening in Kolkata. Being associated with Gorky Sadan (Russian Institute), my childhood was flooded with opportunities to perform. My younger sister also started learning Bharatanatyam & Hindustani classical music. In the lantern-lit evenings we would recite bols and shlokas for the other while one practiced. My interest in arts, I would like to believe, is an inheritance from my father, an architect and an impressionist artist. He was also my worst critic. I lost him in my early twenties. As most stories of middle class families go, various circumstances and the need to earn a living took me far away from my path of dance when I was in high school. I went on to study English Literature before joining GE Healthcare services where I met my husband. An Urdu poet, animal lover, photographer and an engineer, he has been my biggest motivator. [Read more…]

Democratising Rasa (or the pleasure of the lay rasika)

by Elena Catalano

Photo Courtesy: Debiprasad Sahoo

Photo Courtesy: Debiprasad Sahoo

It is a common practice in the West to introduce an Odissi performance with brief descriptions of the items presented by the dancer. These introductions normally provide basic information about the rhythmic and melodic accompaniment of the dance or, in the case of abhinaya, about the text the dance interprets through gestures, movements or facial expressions. However, they are, more often than not, clichéd descriptions that dispense scant hints in support of the dance’s appreciation. While certainly satisfying a few who are already familiar with the aesthetics of Odissi, these introductions are nevertheless either too brief or too technical to substantially add to the reception of the performance by the wider audience. When not by the presenter, these descriptions may be uttered by the performer herself, hidden behind the scenes, as if coming on stage to talk to the audience would compromise her aura of immaculate and speechless apsara unable to communicate with her body and her voice at once. [Read more…]