Thursday, 16 January 2014

Article - Odissi: a flower without the fragrance? - Ileana Citaristi

I was talking to an old devadasi of the temple of Lord Jagannath in Puri. She told me that all the people who were now proclaiming to have been the ‘first’ just took of the Odissi dance what they saw, understood, experienced or absorbed and went away to sell it to the world. But that was like to pick up a flower and think to possess its fragrance too, or to copy the recipe of prasada in the temple; it would not have the taste of the original one. In this way, they may have taken away the outward structure of the dance but not the core. This belonged to the temple dancers and would die with the last of them.
We have come a long way since the time when Odissi dance was a matter of lifelong training and dedication of a few girls, secluded from the rest of society and fully oriented towards giving pleasure to their Lord residing in the temple. The dance performances of today are totally intermingled with mundane values like ambition, competition, politics, money, showmanship, individual prestige and so on.


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