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‘ DANCE AS YOGA - THE SPIRIT AND TECHNIQUE OF ODISSI ’

Publisher: Niyogi Books, New Delhi

Dance as Yoga examines the background, technique and embodiment of classical Indian odissi dance while mapping a practice grounded in an understanding of yoga. It examines odissi’s physicality using Choreological Studies, a discipline founded by Rudolf Laban for the study of movement and dance. The material provides useful information for practicing dancers, scholars and general readers, desiring an in depth view of how Indian dance techniques function as sadhana.   Preface







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‘ ODISSI, A DANCE OF SCULPTURE ’

The contents of the documentary DVD , Odissi-A Dance of Sculpture, were later expanded into an exhibition on Odishan sculpture and the odissi dance tradition entitled “In the Footsteps of the Devadasi” at Auroville in 2010, and in 2011 in the Pondicherry Ashram. This was subsequently made into a book , with support from Odisha Tourism.

Excerpt:

Notes and Acknowledgments

Dance, as a temple ritual, occurred in Odisha without interruption for many centuries. The photographs in this book, with their accompanying notes, are used to trace this ritual by looking at the architectural and sculptural developments that took place between the 6th and 13th centuries AD. These milestones from the past mark how a religious environment developed where the dance ritual took centre stage in the community’s worship.

All the sites described here are indicated in the maps drawn by Sri Rabindranath Sahoo at the back of the book. These are in and around Bhubaneswar, so within easy access of the State capital. They allow for a first hand, informed, experience of how these temple environments changed in form and detail, becoming grander and richer with each century as the dance tradition unfolded. Our focus has been on the gradual ‘coming of age’ of the sculptural, languourous maiden (alasakanya) motif on temple surfaces. It was this image that inspired the physical shape odissi took when it was born in the 20th century as an Indian classical dance art.

A description of the evolving temple structure, on which the motif appeared, required using some technical terms that appear in italics in the text, and have been explained in the Glossary for easy reference. This temple body represented a map of the universe, and the idea of performing within a form viewed as the Body of God has remained a source of inspiration for dancers even today. Indeed, embodying sacred space through dance is a dominant idea in the choreographic works that are being created across the odissi tradition.

The photographs used are from the KAI Trust archives, a collection made up of many years of audio and visual documentation of Odishan architecture, sculpture, painting, folk and tribal music, as well as other relevant materials to the study of Odishan dance history that was carried out by Dance Routes in Bhubaneswar, and subsequently entrusted to the KAI Trust in 2007. Our current endeavour is to make this archive accessible and the KAI Trust is presently developing a dance centre adjacent to Auroville, for such initiatives.

We would like to thank the Archeological Survey of India for granting us permission to take photographs. We were greatly helped in some of the temple photography by Robyn Beeche, who will always have our heartfelt gratitude, and by Dilip Dhirsamant, a Bhubaneswar-based photographer. Dance photographs are by Robyn, Lalit Verma, Avinash Pasricha and Henry Stein. We would also like to thank Dharmesh Jadeja and his team for their support in mounting an exhibition of these photographs at the Kalakendra Gallery in Bharat Nivas, Auroville. The exhibition drew its storyline from the DVD of the same title that was first published by Dance Routes in 2005, and this book further expands on the exhibition. It was the very warm response of visitors to this event that spurred the making of this publication.

Lastly, readers should note that for this second print, the nomenclature of Orissa has been updated to Odisha, the adjectives Oriyan or Orissan to Odishan, and Oriya to Odia.

Michael Weston
Rekha Tandon
MRP: Rs 2500 (student discount available for sales in India)






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