One of my favorite classical-dance related blogs, Sacred Space, recently posted a teaser from the upcoming documentary film Odissi - From the Temples to the Contemporary Stage by Sandrine Da Costa (with collaboration by the Sacred Space blog author herself, Isabel Putinja). The film is beautifully shot and looks to feature an excellent array of Odissi artists and performances.
Click on the teaser screencap collage below to link to the original Sacred Space post to watch the teaser:
What struck me most was the recent footage of young male gotipua dancers! A cursory look into Odissi history usually reveals its origins in the dances of the maharis and nartakis (Oriya temple and court dancers), the gotipuas (pre-pubescent boys apparently trained in acrobatic and mahari-imitative dance and dressed like girls), and perhaps the martial arts and dance theater traditions of the area. Some writings allude that modern Odissi actually largely came from the gotipua and theater traditions (and it's interesting to note most of the men who came together to form "Odissi" were former gotipua and theater dancers). For more on the subject, I would recommend the section "Odissi, Temple Rituals and Temple Sculptures" from Alessandra Lopez y Royo's online book ReConstructing and RePresenting Dance: Exploring the Dance/Archeology Conjunction hosted at the Stanford Humanities Lab website. (Sidenote: I've just discovered her writings in a couple hardcopy dance books I've been reading and she looks to have some fascinating information/theories).
So while I had heard of the gotipua dancers from decades ago, I had always been under the impression that the gotipua tradition died out around the time modern Odissi took shape in the 1950s and was no more after that! I was amazed at the gotipua footage in the teaser- the boys' training footage reminds me if videos I've seen of young boys initiated into Kathakali with the oil massages and limbering and bending exercises. The gotipua dance is highly acrobatic - like Odissi and gymnastics melded into one! Apparently the gotipua tradition has gotten a boost lately with some new state patronage and a festival for the form as noted in this The Telegraph article.
Beyond the fascinating gotipua footage, it was a treat to see well-known Indian classical dance historian Sunil Kothari in the flesh since I've seen his writings pop up quite a bit during my research. And there is footage of performers from the Odissi residential dance school Nrityagram! Photos of these dancers on Flickr have captured my heart from the moment I saw them years ago- just beautiful. The teaser also features interview and dance clips of the excellent Sujata Mohapatra (is she not one of the best Odissi dancers!) and Italian-born Illeana Citaristi.
Last - Sandrine Da Costa's Vimeo site also reveals a video about Sujata Mohapatra with interview and dance clips (and some gotipua footage). Doesn't Sujata look so different from her stage appearances?
Upcoming Documentary: Odissi - From the Temples to the Contemporary Stage
Thursday, March 1, 2012
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