Friday 9 June 2023

The many threads of Odishi - Dancing on Air: Column by Kathakali Jana

Sharmila Biswas's Sutra, which has had two shows in Mumbai recently and is going to be staged at GD Birla Sabhagar in Kolkata on June 17, 2023, attempts to trace the history of Odishi dance. Ambitious as the intent may appear, it is possible to see how such a work may have acquired its shape, given the methodology of a historiographer that she has often adopted in creating performances.

In all her work, there is an attempt to look at Odishi not merely as an insider but also with the curiosity and wonder of an outsider who is on a journey of discovery. Her constant quest for inspiration and stimulus has taken her to the rural performative traditions of Odisha. She has looked for community practices in obscure temples and interior villages and emerged with extraordinary treasures. Her learnings have enriched her choreography, in which the songs, music, rhythmic patterns, movement structures and, above all, the essence of rural Orissa - past and present - are integrated into a whole that is much greater than the sum of its parts.

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