Sriyah, Nrityagram Dance Ensemble

Now entering its final week, Shared History presents Sriyah – excerpts from a decade of dance making at Dance Factory, September 18 and 19 at 7.30pm.


Sriyah, performed by the Nrityagram Dance Ensemble, one of the ten foremost dance companies of the world, comprises the Artistic Director/Choreographer and dancer Surupa Sen, with dancers Pavithra Reddy and Bijayini Satpathy and four musicians: Sanjib Kunda on Violin, Parshuram Das on Flute, Sibasankar Satapathy – Mardala (percussion) and singer Jateen Sahu.

nrityagram in motionFor Nrityagram Dance Ensemble dance is a way of life. The founder Protima Gauri – an exquisite Odissi dancer herself – converted ten acres of farmland into an ideal setting for the study, practice and teaching of classical dance. The dancers study yoga, meditation, the martial arts as well as Sanskrit, mythology and literature. As knowledge passes from guru to disciple, the continuity of the classical arts is ensured. Odissi is characterised by sensuousness and lyricism. With movements that reflect the motifs of temple sculpture, it captures drum rhythms, melodies, as well as the poetic meaning of songs taken from the vast canon of Oriya music. There is evidence that Odissi was performed in Orissa as far back as the 2nd Century BC – a sacred ritual dedicated to the gods – making it one of the oldest dance traditions in the world.

The Nrityagram Dance Ensemble is regarded as one of the foremost dance companies of India and has performed all over India, North America, Europe, the Middle-East and the Far-East. Although steeped in and dedicated to ancient practice, Nrityagram’s dancers are also involved in carrying Indian dance into the twenty-first century.

Their first full-length production Sri – In Search of the Goddess, was made possible by the Doris Duke Fund for Dance of the National Dance Project, as was Sacred Space. Pratima: Reflection has been commissioned by the Joyce Theater’s Stephen and Cathy Weinroth Fund for New Work. Vibhakta from Pratima: Reflection, was listed in “The 10 best dance performances of 2008” – Joan Acocella, The New Yorker (09 Dec, 2008).

Excerpts from a decade of dance-making:

Úrî in Search of the Goddess (2000) – an exploration of female energy within the framework of Odissi…a search for the Shared_History__Sriyah__Bijayini_Satpathy_Photo_Sonia_ManchandaGoddess within, Which carries us beyond mythological images and definitions …towards a consciousness that this world, driven by the mind, rationality and power needs in order to reach fulfillment.

Ansh (2004) – viewers are transported to enchanted worlds of magic and spirituality with the sensuous flow of Odissi, the oldest of India’s classical dance forms. Originally a sacred ritual, Odissi is marked by lyricism and curved bodylines that bring alive the temple sculptures of India. Ancient wisdom and divine transfiguration are unveiled and interpreted in electrifying dance.

Sacred Space (2006) – In Indian thought, a network of power lines traverses and divide cosmic space, charging the universe with the energy of the Godhead. Temples were built and rituals devised, to capture and reflect this energy, generating power-fields within. If an energy grid can be created in temples, can Odissi dance – originally a temple ritual – be based on the same principles? Is it possible that the dance can be constructed to reflect and create energy in much the same way as other temple rituals? Can Odissi become a journey to a higher source?

Pratima: Reflection (2008) – images of the dance and the dancer – never separate, one enhancing the other. The reflections unite, multiply, gently embellish themselves, and grow languidly in the sensuous realms of Odissi.

Sriyah will be performed at The Playhouse, Durban on 21 and 22 September at 8pm.

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