Wednesday 27 September 2023

Article - Mayurbhanj Chhau - Bharat Sharma

Within the battle-lines drawn around the geographical contours and 'ancientness' of dance 'styles' animating the performing arts scenario in last several decades in India, one 'style' that has been on the margins is Mayurbhanj Chhau. My love for this art form grew from the fascination my father inculcated in me from the beginning of my career.

Amongst the memorabilia Baba left behind for me to dwell upon is the key Marg issue (volume 22, number 1) of 1968 printed from Mumbai that was gifted to me once I started learning Mayurbhanj Chhau seriously in 1976 in Delhi. This volume, which has not got critical attention yet, was obviously a milestone of its time, and remained a benchmark for scholars and students of Chhau style for long. The cover page, with a picture of two dancers from Seraikella Chhau, begins with an emotive editorial by progressive writer Mulk Raj Anand (founder-editor) by placing Chhau as a 'subaltern' amongst dance styles. Thereupon, there are articles by Sunil Kothari on Seraikella Chhau, and by Jiwan Pani on Mayurbhanj Chhau. In each case, there are photographs of two sleek male bodies demonstrating respective techniques - Kedar Nath Sahu for Seraikella and Krishna Chandra Naik for Mayurbhanj. These were perhaps the earliest writings on Chhau in a recognized 'national' art magazine. 

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