In my post ‘Introductionto Odissi’ dated 02.03.2015, i have uploaded as the first video-clip, a lecture-cum-demonstration of how to learn Odissi dance by Daksha Mashruwala. A disciple of the legendary Odissi dance guru the Late Kelu Charan Mohapatra, she started her Odissi dance institute ‘Kaishiki’ in 1992 in Mumbai (then Bombay). The word ‘Kaishiki’ literally means ‘graceful style’ and Odissi dance has a lilting style.
On the 28th August, 2016, I had the good fortune of watching the presentation of ‘Crossing Oceans’ a fusion of Odissi, Chhau and Contemporary dance forms choreographed by Daksha along with Raka Maitra. It wove together 3 folklores, Greek, Australian and Japan, blended together. The legendary Greek hunter Orion, King’s prime huntsman, fell in love with the king’s daughter and once, in an intoxicated moment, made advances towards her. The enraged king cursed him making him blind. With Kedallion sitting on his shoulders and guiding his faith, he went to Lemnos where, with the first rays of the rising sun, he recovered his vision. Taking Artemis, the beautiful goddess as his partner, he resumed hunting. He grew vain and boasted that he would kill every beast on earth. Mother Earth sent a giant scorpion to kill him. In the end, the two killed each other. Artemis placed Orion among the stars and Mother Earth placed the Scorpion in the opposite end of the sky.
The second folklore depicted in the dance was the Australian lore of the Rainbow Serpent. In Dreamtime, the world was bare and lifeless. The Rainbow Serpent slept under the ground. One day, he woke up from his slumber and began to traverse the land. As he pushed his great body, he forced out hills and mountains. His tracks created river beds and lakes. He created clouds and rain with which trees sprung up and life-forms originated. Tired, the Serpent curled up in a waterhole and went out of sight. The living creatures that drank from the waterhole were careful not to disturb him. Often, he arched up his back and traveled to another far off waterhole. People could see him in the sky as a magnificent rainbow.
The final part depicted a Japanese folklore. A woodcutter used to eke out a megre living cutting bamboos. One day, he found a beautiful girl inside a bamboo-stalk. He brought her home. Seeing her, his wife became very happy. The villagers were curious. News about her beauty spread, the Emperor came and asked for hand in marriage. Kaguya, the girl, reciprocated his love but her heart longed to go back to her home, the moon, where she could truly be herself – free and boundless. Just as mankind remains in constant struggle between wanting to be free and yet be bound to earthly attachments, so was the moon princess torn between two emotions – freedom and attachment. So, on a full moon night, Kaguya leaves for the moon leaving behind the heart-broken village.
The audience was mesmerized by the programme. When it ended and the team led by Daksha Mashruwala came back to the stage to take the final bow, each one in the large audtorium filled to capacity, gave them a standing ovation and an endless applause.
For me, it became an evening worth remembering and recalling for times to come.
Here is a trailer of the show:
Here are some excepts from Odissi Dance presentations by Daksha Mashruwal: