Thursday, 10 September 2015

Article - History and ritualistic significance of Odissi dance today - Monica Singh Sangwan

Abhinavagupta, the commentator on Bharata’s Natyashastra says that the origin of dance (and of Art) is not something that can be traced. It is as ancient and ever existing as the knowledge contained within the Vedas themselves. Every generation rediscovers it, re-interprets it and gives it its own identity according to their own evolution, state of mind and understanding.
Dance, the representation of joy through our only vehicle, our body, seems to hold universal appeal and continuity. Yet, because we are human and contain intellectual facility to think, to reflect and to wonder and then to come to a conclusion about our place in the universe, a stylization enters that elemental representation of joy and beauty.

The aim of dance according to him is to either entertain or to enlighten. The universe in its abstractness and vastness holds a mystical power over the human mind. The human body is endowed with an incredible tenacity to display the most mystical and vast phenomenon of the universe through its minutest gestures.  Dance is that representation of the infinite through the finite and perishable body of a human soul.

While the history of Odissi dance too is as clouded and obscure in the passage of time as any ancient art is, historical evidence of the dance form suggests a 2000-year-old antiquity and beyond.

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