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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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…]

The Elements of a Style

by Dali Basu Choudhury

Feet, Ghungroo and Saree of a Dancer

Photo Courtesy: Debiprasad Sahoo

Odissi’s growing popularity can be attributed to the increased accessibility as a result of cross cultural exchanges, technology, and media. The initial schools or styles that had emerged during Odissi’s reconstruction process continue to be passed on through their students. Today there are a number of dance institutes in various parts of the world that bear the legacy of these individual schools. However, upon examining Odissi as it is being practiced today, the features that had once earmarked individual styles are rapidly decreasing to the point where one must reconsider whether a formal distinction between schools is necessary.

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