Traditional Odissi/Orissi at Evergreen

The traditional Odissi dance had to be recreated in postcolonial India. The 1950's, 60's, and 70's marked this process. However, when scholars and dance gurus (teachers) sat down to transform the existing debilitated dance form into classical Odissi dance, they gave lip service to the tradition of the female temple dancers. The recreated classical Odissi stemmed from the Gotipua tradition of young boys dressed in female garb.

The guru of gurus, Padmashri Pankaj Charan Das was the repository of the temple dance tradition, along with the living devadasis or Maharis (former temple dancers). Since 1977, Ratna Roy trained exclusively under Guru Pankaj Charan Das. In 1985, she and David Capers took it upon themselves to work with the maharis and the guru to articulate the dance style as a unique form of classical Odissi dance. At The Evergreen State College, students train in this style of dance and work on archival research and primary historical research in the Evergreen Orissi Research Centre in the Communications Building.

Guru Pankaj Charan Das was also brilliant in group choreography, deriving from the Medho dance in Puri. Students at Evergreen have performed "Glani Samhar" in this tradition. His unique dialogic choreography is also taught as part of the traditional Odissi dance curriculum at Evergreen.

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