Redefining Odissi: A “Contemporary” Approach

by Aastha Gandhi

Photo Courtesy: Debiprasad Sahoo

Photo Courtesy: Debiprasad Sahoo

As a dancer, one may often ponder, “How could I portray my life in an urban setting through this very traditional dance form? Do I have to give up the mythical stories and the heavy attire? If I do, then would the form still be considered Odissi? But then again, my dancing body would still move to and retain the Odissi technique,” this raises the question if the dance is merely defined by its traditional attire, traditional themes and the repertoire? Broadly, the quest is about tradition being accepted as a “given” text, merely to be followed, in “different ways” or if it can be learnt as a language from which new texts can be written, new vocabularies can be created as a mode of self-expression? Does that mean that it is acceptable to talk about these ‘given texts’ as boundaries? Can one then negotiate with these boundaries? Is the dance then living up to its ultimate goal of liberating the body? [Read more…]