December 30, 2010
Day two was devoted to Odissi and the lec-dem was presented by Guru Mayadhar Raut and his daughter / disciple Madhumita Raut on natya training and its subsequent development. The visit of the Jayantika group from Delhi was supported by the Sangeet Natak Akademi.
Guru Mayadhar Raut, one of the pioneering members of the Jayantika movement, witnessed the growth of Odissi in Orissa from the 1930s and 1940s. The teaching tradition was very different then as Odissi was called Aanchalik Nritya at that time. He had to stay in gurukul and trained in Mahari nacha, gotipua nacha, Dakhini nacha, Dasinatyam, Sakhi nacha and Rasleela.
Kala Vikas Kendra in Cuttack was the first to start teaching Odissi according to a syllabus. In early days, mudras were present but their use was limited. Mudras used in Kala Vikas Kendra were based on the Abhinaya Chandrika. Mayadhar Raut joined in 1952 as a teacher and taught whatever he had learnt in gurukul. In 1955, he joined Kalakshetra and trained there till 1959. His stay in Kalakshetra led to Abhinaya Darpana and Natya Sastra also being introduced in the study of Odissi dance. Guruji himself demonstrated some mudras that he formulated that are typical of Odissi.
Stances were demonstrated from the gotipua and mahari tradition that were in use those days. Lord Jagannath at Puri is seated in a chowka position, hence this has special place in Odissi. Maharis used very little mudras. The entire Odissi repertoire used to be capsuled in one 20 minute item ending in a joyful dance that Guruji used to perform in 1952 in the Gotipua style, as demonstrated by the dancers. The Jayantika association broke this down into Mangalacharan, Batu, Pallavi, Abhinaya and Moksha. The musical instruments originally used were manjira and mardala. The singer sang only supporting lines while the gotipua danced and sang. Slowly violinists started accompanying the dancer. Flute and sitar were introduced by musicians from Bengal and even veena came to be a part of the Odissi orchestra. In 1950s, the famous Odissi belt and flowers were not in use. Aharya also underwent a change after the scholars delved into ancient texts.
What Odissi was then and what it is now are so different. Unbelievable progress has been made and Odissi is now popular on a global scale. Guruji firmly believes that methodical training must be executed in a disciplined and rigorous manner, and abhyasa sampradaya should be in strict adherence to the sastras, only then can the Odissi tradition be maintained.