Phase I (2005-2007) supported by INTACH, EZCC and ICCR
Phase II (2007-2008) supported by Ford Foundation
Learning tools were created as a reference for distribution to gotipua gurukuls as part of this project:
Mardala Training - Demonstration by Guru Banamali Maharana for Dance Routes
Voice Training - Demonstration by Guru Keshab Rout for Dance Routes
Odissi Training – A record of student work conducted by Dr Rekha Tandon
The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) proposed an 'Integrated Development Plan' for the heritage village of Raghurajpur, located 15 kilometres from the pilgrimage town of Puri, Orissa. Among other development initiatives, the plan cited study and enhancement of the gotipua dance tradition as one of its objectives.
INTACH initiated the "Raghurajpur Lila" project (Phase 1) - a five month performing arts workshop designed and executed by Dance Routes to further solidify this objective. In the same month, the Eastern Zonal Cultural Centre (EZCC) Kolkata, with the Ministry of Rural Development SGSY (Special Project) Government of India, also agreed to support the project.
The small village of Raghurajpur is famed for its rich artistic traditions and almost every home is an artisan's studio. It was also home to Padma Vibhushana Guru Kelucharan Mahapatra, a gotipua initially, who later became an internationally acclaimed dancer and a founding father in the creation of odissi.
Due to INTACH's efforts, traditional mural painting in Raghurajpur had been revived and the exterior walls of homes repainted with popular mythological stories. As part of the project, Dance Routes enlisted the help of Robyn Beeche, an Australian photographer, to document these as well as pattachitra paintings in the possession of indigenous artists.
Phase I (2005-2007):
Phase I of the project was a five-month workshop with one young gurukul from the village of Raghurajpur. It explored ways of enhancing training for acrobatic movements amongst young children from the gotipua tradition, and introduced concepts of theatricality and presentation that were new to them. The workshop ended with much acclaimed performances of the troupe in both Kolkata and New Delhi.
Phase II (2007-2008):
Phase II aimed at disseminating the learning and gains of Phase I amongst a greater number of traditional performing artists, by bringing together different gurus, gurukuls and students from within Raghurajpur and its neighbouring villages. This was done with a grant from the Ford Foundation between January and May 2007. During this process the following objectives were achieved:
1) Documentation of archival songs and compositions in the gotipua tradition
2) Enhancement of skills in vocal and percussion accompaniment for dance amongst gotipuas
3) Dissemination of knowledge of basic exercises used in odissi in gotipua gurukuls
4) Creation of a greater awareness about body conditioning and prevention of dance related injuries through yoga
5) Creation of new choreography, along with a greater understanding of the principles of dance composition and choreography
The tutors for these workshops were:
|Odissi:||Dr. Rekha Tandon|
|Voice:||Guru Keshab Rout|
|Mardala:||Guru Banamali Maharana and his disciple, Sri Manoranjan Pradhan|
|Yoga:||Maushmi Pattnaik, a karma sanyasi under the supervision of Swami|
Swaroopananda of the Bihar School of Yoga
Guest choreographers invited to participate in the workshops were Guru Lingaraj Barik and Guru Maguni Jena.
Guest presentations were also made by:
1) Padmashree Guru Maguni Das (founder of Raghurajpur's first gurukul)
2) Guru G.K. Behera (song writer/composer/choreographer and associate of the late Padmavibhushan Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra)
3) Prof. Purna Chandra Misra (formerly a research assistant for Fredrique Marglin's study on maharis, and a close associate of several personalities connected with the history of odissi dance)
4) Swami Swaroopananda (senior Swami of the Satyananda Saraswati order and founder of the Bhubaneswar branch of the Bihar School of Yoga)
5) Shri Chittaranjan Mallia (researcher and close associate of practically every locally eminent gotipua and odissi personality today, and who considers Raghurajpur his 'second home')
The ground covered by these presentations focused on the oral legends connected with the beginnings of the gotipua tradition in the 16th century; the development of the tradition's present repertoire; the gotipua lineage of Raghurajpur and the process by which odissi transformed elements from the gotipua tradition into a classical Indian dance form.
A dialogue was also started amongst gotipua gurus, and a consensus reached, on how the gotipua tradition should take its art forward into the 21st century; namely, by using acrobatic elements narratively, and improving skills in the fields of vocal music, percussion and dance. The invited tutors gave accounts of their life histories, as well as their contribution to the gotipua tradition.
Excerpts from the production 'Dhara', highlighting both the connection between yoga asanas and acrobatic positions used by the gotipuas and a way to incorporate other folk traditions into a performance, were presented at the annual Basant Utsav in Raghurajpur on 10th March.
New choreography created during the project was presented to the village on the Bhuasuni Devi temple platform, built by Guru Kelucharan Mahapatra. This particular performance marked a significant milestone in that it was the first time dancers from different gurukuls within the village, as well as outside, had performed together.
A detailed project report, including extensive video documentation of the workshops and presentations held in the village of Raghurajpur, along with learning tools for voice, mardala and odissi, have been put on VCD format and are available with the KAI Trust, for students and researchers.