Invoking divinity

They defy gravity when they perform. And it’s not just gravity that is deceived. So are the audiences,for whom the female attire of the performers is too convincing to decide their gender.

Written by Shashi Priya | Published:March 26, 2009 3:45 am

Odissi dance form Gotipua,involving acrobatic moves and performed only by boys,will be staged in the city for the first time ever

They defy gravity when they perform. And it’s not just gravity that is deceived. So are the audiences,for whom the female attire of the performers is too convincing to decide their gender. But Gotipua is an enigmatic conundrum. When six out of eight performers levitate in air during their performance,the audience is transfixed. The acrobatic acts during the dance performance are too engaging for them to notice the layer of masculinity lurking under the veneer of female attire. And so in various formations,when they create an array of mythological characters and objects,the audience is drawn to the edge of its seats to witness the spectacle. Hardly does it cross their minds that the performers are not girls but boys. Belonging to age group of 7 to 11,these boys are the ones who have mastered the art of dissolving their identities for the divine.

Or as Parwati Dutta,one of the artistes puts it,“Negation of one’s own identity is what the dance demands. The Gotipua dance form inspires you to dissolve your identity to be one with the Lord. The dance urges the dancer to become a small unit of the its service offered to the Lord.” Gotipua,the traditional Odissi dance form,is now all set to spread its archaic charm in the city. The Mahagami academy,Aurangabad and Urrmee,Pune together bring the vivacious dance form of Orissa to the city. The programme Utkalkanti which is divided in to two segments will be a display of two different dance forms of Orissa,one being Gotipua that involves acrobatic moves and is considered a precursor of present day Odissi dance. Konark Dance Mandap,Konark and Parwati Dutta’s troupe ,Aurangabad come together to acquaint Puneites with the traditional dance form. Led by Dutta,artistes from both troupes aim at presenting the spirit of Gotipua as well as present day Odissi dance.

“The Odissi that we see today is largely inspired by Gotipua ,which means ‘one boy.’ It is a living tradition indigenous to the Puri district whereby pre-puberty boys are trained in Odissi dance since childhood and perform dressed in traditional female attire.”

Vishnu riding his Garud,chariots,temples’ summits and many other archaic objects straight from the epics find their existence in various moves and formations of the dance form. To be performed for the first time in Pune,Gotipua dance along with present-day Odissi dance performance is sure to be a riveting treat.

(Utkalkanti will take place at Ishanya Amphitheatre at 6.30pm on March 28)

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