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Conference Title:International Festival of Anthropology of Dance, 2008, Krakow, Poland
Sub-theme:On the Silk Route of Gestures
Presentation by:Rekha Tandon
Venue:Museum of Ethnography, Krakow, Poland
Hosts:Polish Society of Anthropology of Dance
Date:9th - 15th March 2008
Abstract:Symbiotic Relationship between Hindu Dance and Chakras in Yoga

The fundamental purpose of all classical Indian dance has been union with God through bodily transcendence; in this the technique of dance has served as a route to self-knowledge for centuries. These artistic traditions have taken their present form as regional variations of a mother tradition, nurtured through time in Hindu temple environments, until recent history. Excellence in a contemporary performance of these dance forms is judged by whether it goes beyond merely describing union with God to being experienced on subtler levels, as a 'coming together of matter and spirit', for both performer and viewer.

Conference Title:2005 Conference of the British Forum for Ethnomusicology
Sub-theme:Post Colonial Identity Construction in South Asian Dance & Music
Presentation by:Rekha Tandon
Venue:SOAS, University of London
Date:12 - 15 April 2005
Abstract:Expanding odissi's physical parameters for contemporary audiences

The framework of 'classicism' that has been carefully put in place by odissi's founding Gurus in the 1950's, and loyally upheld ever since, has missed establishing procedures for ensuring natural growth in the tradition. If odissi is approached with a choreological perspective and understood as systems of movement, structures of choreography, as well as a psychological space experienced in present time containing defining structures of history and tradition rooted in tantric ritual, a basis for creative exploration with its language can be established. This allows the creation of new choreography that remains true to the fundamental strengths of classical Indian dance while making space for contemporary work.

Conference Title:INTACH Vision 2020
Session:Linkage between Tangible and Intangible Heritage
Presentation Title:Orissan medieval temples as source material for the creation of odissi in the 20th century
Presentation by:Rekha Tandon
Venue:Ashoka Hotel, New Delhi
Date:2nd November 2004
Abstract:Orissan medieval temples as source material for the creation of odissi in the 20th century

This presentation showcases prominent Orissan shrines protected by the Archeological Survey of India and listed by the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), from Bhubaneswar, Konark, Puri and their environs, dating between the 6th and 13th centuries AD. These are examined with the purpose of 'reading' them for an understanding of the important medieval Orissan ritual of dancing by devadasi or "servant-wives of God", that occurred as an essential component of worship from the 10th century onwards. This tradition inspired the creation of the odissi dance form in post Independence India.

The thought environment that gave form to dance as worship by women 'married' to the deity occurred as an amalgamation of Shaivism, Shaktism and Vaishnavism, which is reflected in the form, structure and iconographic configuration of temple architecture seen through time. The dancing human form rendered as used in ritual dance provided a veritable directory of body positions that were incorporated into odissi's vocabulary by the first gurus of the tradition in the 1950's and 60's. Sculptural images of languorous maidens ornamenting temple surfaces reflect psychological states of meditative rapture, which draw the viewer into their enchanted world even centuries later.

Conference Title:New Connectivity: Creative & Somatic Practices in Dance Education
Presentation by:Rekha Tandon
Venue:Laban Centre, London
Date:19th July 2003
Abstract: Odissi & the Tantric Body Map

The workshop explores the significance of the chakra body map in the consciousness transforming rituals of Tantric Hinduism, while focusing on its benefits to the practice of odissi as a dance discipline today. In doing this, it draws attention to the six principal chakras and their location in the spinal cord through practical kriya yoga techniques usually practiced in a state of stillness, adapted for dance training as movement meditations.

The method of technique training used in existing guru-shishya systems of odissi are discussed, drawing attention to the problems presented by this traditional learning mould. It is argued that the tantric body map can provide an invaluable personal reference point to the student-dancer while assimilating knowledge, a factor that is conspicuously absent in the traditional teaching environment.

Odissi dance patterns are introduced to workshop participants using the chakras as a point of focus for the origin of movement in the body. This allows the pivotal positions of chowk and tribhanga, often described as unnatural to the body by novices, to be embodied with focus and seeming ease.

For the dancer using odissi as a long-term body discipline, the tantric body map provides a path to an integration of the 'body-mind-consciousness' complex through dance, that is well entrenched in time tested systems of yoga. This constitutes a working link between dance and spirituality as defined by the Hindu tradition.

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