March 14, 2020
Lilayita & Hidimba
Free Admission, thanks to generous donors!
Shreyashi Dey & group
LILAYITA-STORIES, EXPRESSIONS AND RHYTHMS OF EASTERN INDIA. AN INNOVATIVE CLASSICAL DANCE PRODUCTION IN ODISSI AND MANIPURI STYLES
Lilayita interweaves two of India’s eight primary classical dance styles Odissi and Manipuri to present a unique program of unparalleled beauty and grace, as well as dazzling virtuosity. As East Indian dance styles they share basic similarities in their technique, literary themes, religious and spiritual basis, and grace and lyricism. Unique pieces in the production include Tanum-Pallavi, Dasavatar, Mridang-Manjira, Pung Cholom, and pieces in each style.
The Odissi dance form can be traced more than 2,000 years ago having been closely associated with ancient and medieval temple sculpture, marked by exquisite and flowing sculptural movements and subtle "abhinaya" (artistic expression).
Bhakti or devotion is the essence of the rarely seen graceful and lyrical Manipuri dance style, with emphasis on both Tandava (forceful and vigorous), and Lasya (graceful and lyrical) elements. However, the two styles are also distinct enough that their contrasts also provide room for exploration.
SREYASHI DEY: ARTISTIC DIRECTOR
Sreyashi Dey is one of the foremost exponents of Odissi in the US, and the Founder and Artistic Director of Srishti Dances of India. Previously also an exponent of Bharatanayam (another Indian dance form), as a thoughtful artist, she constantly expands her creative horizons with new choreographies and collaborations across artistic genres. She regularly tours the US and has performed all over the world - in Europe, Asia and India. Her work has been critically acclaimed by well- known critics in leading newspapers and magazines in the US, such as the New York Times, as well as in leading media in India. She has been the recipient of several awards and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and several premier foundations in the US. Dey’s educational background includes an MS in Economics and an MBA, with parallel careers in marketing, University of Michigan administration and non-profit.
KRITIKA RAJAN is one of the well-known young Odissi dancers in the US. Along with her twin sister, Ishika, she has trained for almost 20 years, and performed widely all over the world as a company member of Srishti. She is the daughter of Sreyashi Dey, under whom, she has trained since her childhood, in addition to Guru Manoranjan Pradhan, Guru Ratikant Mohapatra, and other distinguished teachers in India. Rajan has performed at several important festivals and stages in numerous cities in the US, India, Malaysia, London, Paris, and several other countries. As a principal dancer of Srishti, Rajan performed at the Downtown Dance Festival/Erasing Borders in New York City, to critical acclaim in the New York Times. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a triple major (Economics, Biology and Anthropology) and works as a management strategy consultant. She spends time in both Ann Arbor and San Francisco, working on dance and her professional commitments in parallel.
KOHAL DAS began his Odissi training from Rina Jana in Kolkata and revived his Odissi training under Smt. Madhulita Mohapatra at Nrityantar, Bengaluru. Das has performed in many festivals including Rasasvada 2016, Natarajotsava 2017, Articulate Festival 2017, Articulate Festival, 2017), Kerala Kalamandalam Festival, 2017, Nrityakalakshetra Festival, 2017, IIDF, Hyderabd, 2017, Naman, 2017, Odissi Utsav, Bangalore, 2017. Apart from Odissi Das has learnt Bharatanatyam under Shri Parshwanth Upadhye and Smt. Shruti Upadhye. Das is a cancer biochemist by profession, with a PhD at the Department of Biochemistry, Indian Institute of Science (IISc.) in Bangalore. He wants to pursue a scientific career which would accommodate his passion for dance, enabling him to contribute to the Indian Heritage.
RINKU BHATTACHARYA DAS is an empaneled artist of Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR). She is a senior disciple of the Late Guru Bipin Singh and Padmashri Darshana Jhaveri having received intense training in Manipuri dance for 25+ years. Some of her major dance performances are Erasing Borders Festival (Manhattan, NY), New Delhi Arts Festival (New Delhi, India), National Centre of Performing Arts (Mumbai), Uma Dogra’s Raindrop Festival (Mumbai) and Nritya Sangam for West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee/US Consulate (Kolkata). She is also trained in Kathak under Late Sri Guru Parveen Gangani and Guru Sanjeevani Kulkarni. She has been an Assistant Manager in Standard Chartered Bank for several years before moving to the USA. She is the Director of Nrityajyoti Dance Academy in Raleigh, NC, and Dallas,TX where she teaches and directs classical and contemporary dance productions.
KRISHNAKALI DASGUPTA is a senior student of Smt Poushali Chatterjee (Kolkata) and Dr. Sohini Ray (Los Angeles). A recipient of the Senior National Scholarship from the Govt. of India and the title of Sringarmani from Sur Shringar Samsad Mumbai, Dasgupta has been a dedicated performer of Manipuri for the last 22 years and is adept is Tandava, Lasya, Cholom, Thang-Ta and Mridang playing. She has performed nationally and internationally extensively as a Solo artist and with her Gurus since 1996 and was recently featured in the 3rd Tri-Nethra Festival, MA as a solo artist. She is also the co-founder and co-director of Mitradheya -a Manipuri dance collaborative that produces original dance-drama productions for the last 12 years, along with her Guru bhagnis Debanjana Roy and Debanjali Biswas.
Sreyashi Dey will present her new dance-theater work, in which she explores the life of Hidimba, one of the lesser known and rarely examined characters of the Mahabharata. Hidimba is a so-called demon-princess, the wife of one of the Pandava brothers, Bhim. In this piece, Sreyashi questions the traditional division between the Aryans (the Pandavas) and the non-Aryans (Hidimba, the demoness).
Hidimba's life is a moving example of women’s struggles, particularly of those who are outside the dominant socio-economic narrative. Even though she is a powerful warrior and appears to willingly make her own choices, Hidimba’s
only option to negotiate the existing power structures is to accept conditions of diminished fairness and equity, and make personal sacrifices as a wife and mother. Therein lies the dilemma, ambiguity, complexity and poignancy of the choices women are forced to make.
The Mahabharata war plays out not only on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, but also in the minds and bodies of the victorious and the vanquished, the dead and the alive.
Dey has used classical Odissi movements, as well as influences of Seraikella Chau in choreographing this piece. An interesting aspect is the use of vachika abhinaya or spoken word as a storytelling narrative.
Concept and choreography: Sreyashi Dey
Dance and movement: Sreyashi Dey
Script: Anshuman Das
Storytelling: Sanchayita Bhattacharjee Alam
Music: Suvasis Sarkar and Monit Pal
REVIEWS AND ACCOLADES
At first glance we are dazzled by the very jeweled look of this east Indian classical dance, but as the evening unfolds, the mannered and harmonious elements serve to underscore its extreme intensity drawn out through the complex music rhythms and footwork. A certain awe takes place as an audience member, not only at the finesse and technique of the dancers, but the fearlessness, the freshness, and the passion the dancers display within this ancient and proscribed form. The dance, reaching a fevered pitch towards the end, is a feast for the eye, causing one’s will to know to fade while surrendering to the dancers' sheer exuberance.” -- Sarah Skaggs, Nartanam
A knowledgeable audience was given a rare treat and responded with whoops and hollers! We experienced a sublime level of technical mastery coupled with sophisticated artistic vision and depth of expression in a very pure presentation. The melding of Odissi and Manipuri classical dance forms provided an inspiring and enlightening glimpse of the contrasts and similarities between these two styles from the East of India. More than that, however, the aesthetic unity and high caliber of all of the performers transcended what could have been a tourist board-type travelogue and entered into the world of art.”
-- Jonathan Hollander, Artistic Director, Battery Dance Company, New York