Reviving tradition through Odissi

Dancing Divas

The ever-present ancient Indian guru –shishya tradition was paid reverence to by extraordinary performances by the students of Mayadhar School of Odissi Dance on their 39th annual day celebration – Deeksha 2014, held recently at the India International Centre.

The Mayadhar School of Odissi, which prides itself in carrying forward the guru-shishya parampara, is running under the guidance of legendary Odissi professor Padmashri Guru Mayadhar Raut. The celebrated guru is known as the father of Odissi dance, especially abhinaya in the Odissi dance form.

His rich legacy is now being carried forward by his daughter Madhumita Raut, a well known danseuse in her own right and who has performed in countries around the world. She teaches Odissi to students from outside India as well.

“The aim of learning Odissi under Guru Madhumita, for me as a foreigner, is to learn authentic Indian tradition and culture at the same time. And to me, personally, to awaken and achieve perfection and to commune with the Almighty” says Miki Enoki from Japan. 

The event was attended by K K Mittal Additional Secretary, Ministry of Culture as the chief guest and S S Yadav, Commissioner, Food and Supplies as the guest of honour, and an impressive audience of classical arts enthusiasts.

The event comprised performances by 40 students from India and two students from Japan. Live music with flute, violin manjeera, harmonium, and traditional pakhawaj complemented by vocals from their teacher Madhumita Raut lent charm to the whole effort.

The pupils began by paying respect to the guru, a century-old tradition followed by classical dancers in India. Mangalacharan – an integral part of Odissi dance recital featured a dance piece praising Lord Ganesha, known as the destroyer of hurdles in
Hindu mythology.

Since Odissi dance is believed to be performed by devadasi’s in temples in service of the Gods in ancient India, the dance performances displayed many rhythmic stories of gods and goddesses composed by the teacher. Various formations by the students gave an elaborative touch to the stories showcased.

A solo performance on stuti of goddess Durga, the source of power in world, who killed and saved earth from the menace of Mahishasura, left the audience awe inspired. This year, the school included new compositions by Madhumita Raut.

“Deeksha is the annual celebration of Odissi dance. It not only serves as a medium to share our passion with our loved ones, but also as an offering to the Gods. It is a
reminiscence of guru-shishya parampara, where we get to pay tribute to our guru for nurturing and guiding us over the years” says Saniya Singh, a disciple of Madhumita Raut.

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