Konark Surya Temple, Odisha, India

Konark Surya Temple, Odisha, India

Odissi

Odissi is a form of classical Indian dance from the state of Odisha. It is noted for its lyricism, expressiveness, complex isolations, powerful foot rhythms and its capacity to merge the sensual and the sacred.  It originated in the temples and courts of the region once known as Ut Kal; the land that excels in art.

Since 2005, I have studied and performed under the guidance of Guru Dr. Ratna Roy. I have appeared with her company (The Urvasi Dance Ensemble) and as a soloist in India (at the Odissi International Festival, the International Odissi Festival and the Kharavela Festival), in Canada and throughout the US.

Dr. Roy’s Guru is Pankaj Charan Das, known as the Guru of Gurus. He was the adopted son of a Mahari (also known as Devadasis or Yoginis), temple priestesses who carried on the daily rites at the Jagganath temple in Puri, Odisha. He was also a veteran of the Jatra (roving theaters). Both of these traditions helped to sustain Odissi as the status of dancers declined under Mughal and British rule. After Independence, Odissi was reconstructed from these surviving traditions, from texts like the Abhinaya Darpanam and from the thousands of temple sculptures throughout Odisha, such as those found at the Konark Sun Temple.

I assist Dr Roy in her Beginning Odissi class at Velocity Dance Center and teach my own class at Culture Shakti Dance.

  Ratna Roy Urvasi Dance Academy Archive

  Ratna Roy Urvasi Dance Academy Archive

Pankaj Charan Das

Pankaj Charan Das

That the foreigner can come in with new energies in Odissi was shown in Ratna Roy’s student Douglas Ridings’ presentation, his yoga-trained poise presenting an asana filled “Angikam Bhuvanam” and “Surya Namskaram” -like introduction. Bestowing an inward looking strength in spiritual flow, yoga was far from exhibitionistic physicality.
— Leela Venkataraman writing in The Hindu.