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Odissi on High

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Sutra’s new production for 2018 is a joint presentation with Dance Department Cultural Centre (University Malaya) & Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose (Indian Cultural Centre). Odissi on High features the performance of dancers of Sutra Foundation (Kuala Lumpur) together with that of Rukdrakshya Foundation (Bhubaneswar) with the co-artistic direction by their respective directors, Datuk Ramli Ibrahim and Guru Bichitrananda Swain. The odissi dance season of these two compelling odissi institutions, represents a significant Malaysia-India cultural exchange and will also serve as Sutra Foundation’s annual fund-raising for 2018.

Ten years ago, Sutra had anticipated the challenge that Odissi would face in its future artistic direction and consequently presented an accompanying seminar during its large-scale ‘Stirring Odissi 2008’ Festival. The seminar, themed on ‘Preparing Odissi for the 21st Century’ was concerned with the ‘authentic’ spirit of odissi – that this should not be drowned by commoditisation of the dance and by mere shallow innovations for the sake of change.

Sutra & Rudrakshya dancers (From L to R) Samir Panigrahi, Kirthana, Priyanngka & Santosh Ram

Of the revered ‘Trinity’ of odissi gurus, namely Guru Pankaj Charan, Guru Kelucharan Mahapatra and Guru Debaprasad Das, the two latter pioneers have given the reconstructed odissi its most significant legacy and had determined the course of the odissi universe. The late Kelucharan Mahapatra and Debaprasad, each with their own disciples and followers, had contributed and influenced immensely the repertoire of present day re-constructed odissi.

Odissi on High, Sutra’s annual offering for 2018, takes its point of embarkation from two famous compositions by these two gurus, namely, the Sankarabharanam and Kolabati Pallavis, associated with Guru Kelucharan Mahapatra and Debaprasad Das, respectively.

How would these works be experienced now and what is their relevance in the present day scenario? In a way, the pallavis serve as micro lens, by which we shall understand at a macro level the manner odissi was created, layered and conjectured, then, and – now, performed by new dancers.

Sutra Foundation & Rudrakshya Foundation (Left top) Santosh Ram, Geethika Sree, Vickneswaran, Samir Panigrahi, Priyanngka, Hareen, Tan Mei Mei & Kirthana

On the same stage, Odissi on High shall showcase, side-by-side, new pallavis and innovative compositions, inspired or influenced, specifically, by the concept of ‘pallavi’, considered an important genre of the odissi repertoire. The new works presented in Odissi on High have been created by two ‘younger’ gurus – Guru Bichitrananda Swain and Guru Durga Charan Ranbir – who represent the subsequent generation following the wake of their two respected masters – Kelucharan Mahapatra and Debaprasad Das, respectively.

Guru Bichitrananda Swain (artistic director of Rudrakshya Foundation, and Sutra’s present guest) and Guru Durga Charan Ranbir (with whom Sutra has previously collaborated) have themselves created interesting repertoire, which perpetuate the essential spirit of their paramparas. Both of these younger gurus have explored and developed even further the technique and composition of pallavi, displaying a high level of sophistication and technical virtuosity.

Ramli says, “For some time now we’ve been admiring how Guru Bichitrananda has been training his dancers. Some of the best male dancers of Odisha now can be found in Rudrakshya Foundation, or have been previously trained by him. Not only these marvelous dancers but Rudrakshya’s new odissi compositions have to be seen in Malaysia. Bichitrananda’s new works represent the new trend in odissi – dynamic, exciting and technically challenging. He is the next wave of fresh creative energy that has emerged from Odisha. His works will resonate with youths here.”

Those who have attended Sutra’s recent studio performance ‘Twinning’ would have been introduced to two of Rudrakshya’s male dancers – Santosh Ram and Samir Panigrahi who both had created an indelible impact on audience, when they danced with Sutra’s dancers, Geethika Sree and Tan Mei Mei.

Odissi on High will tour Malaysia taking in Seremban, Ipoh, Penang and Kulim after the season in Kuala Lumpur.

Tickets can be purchased at the following address:

Sutra Foundation
12 Persiaran Titiwangsa 3 53200 Kuala Lumpur

T : 603 4021 1092
W : sutrafoundation.org.my
E : sutrafoundation25@gmail.com

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