World Arts West
SF Ethnic Dance Festival


Jyoti Kala Mandir College of Indian Classical Arts

DANCE ORIGIN: Orissa, India
GENRE: Odissi
First Appearance in SF EDF: 2007

On the East coast of India facing the Bay of Bengal is the opulent state of Orissa, known for its magnificent temples numbering in the thousands, remarkable wildlife, and mineral wealth. Its heritage includes a commingling of three great religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. Both a popular tourist and pilgrimage destination, Orissa has some extraordinary religious festivals that center around its famed temples. Birthed in the glorious temple of Jagannath and Konark in Orissa, odissi dance is one of India’s main classical dance forms. Like most forms of classical Indian dance, its original function was for devotional worship, for conveying spiritual ideas, and for passing on the stories of Hindu mythology to the masses.

Highly detailed sculptures of sensual dancing figurines are embedded on temple façades. One of the most renown is the Sun Temple of Konark, a World Heritage Site, built by King Narasimhadeva I (1236-1264 CE). Built out of red sand stone and black granite in honor of the Sun God, the entire complex was designed in the form of a huge imaginary chariot drawn by seven spirited horses representing seven basic colors of the sun. The exquisite entrance is where temple dancers used to perform dances in homage to the Sun God.

Jyoti Kala Mandir College of Indian Classical Arts is a nonprofit organization under the direction of the renowned odissi dance guru Jyoti Rout who immigrated to the United States in 1993. The college teaches and promotes Indian classical performing arts as well as Indian culture and spirituality by offering a variety of classes, performances, and workshops conducted by experienced teachers, artists, and scholars. Located in the San Francisco Bay Area, the school has several branches in Hawaii and Orissa, India.


TITLE: Resounding Prayers Dawn to Dusk
DANCERS: Vanani Basundhara, Mallika Bhandarkar, Alisa Chakravarti, Ranjitha Chakravarty, Sanuja Das, Sweta Dash, Caramia Gambina, Gayatri Joshi, Ananda Kali, Hanna Kopp-Yates, Nayantara Nandakumar, Neha Nayak, Christina Oraftick, Anupama Raj, Guru Jyoti Rout, Gayatri Saldivar, Keshini Samerawikreme, Shradha Suman
Musicians: Shri Prabhu Prasad Behera (flute), Shri Ramesh Chandra Das (violin), Guru Satchidananda Das (mardal), Shri Jyothindra Prasad Mishra (sitar), Nirmal Kumar Rout (percussion), Shri Sarat Kumar Sahu (vocals)

This dance evokes the Sun God Narayana as he moves from dawn to dusk. The dancers depict the statues at the Temple of Konark coming alive to tell their stories as the carvers work on them. The drums are symbolic of the sounds of the carver’s hammers hitting the stone as they carve the moving statues. At dusk the carvers’ work is complete. In the sacred moment between light and darkness, the statues’ eyes open. In that moment of seeing, the mysteries of birth and death are revealed, truth and illusion are laid bare, and the full glory of the divine is revealed in a flash as the sun sets in brilliant hues across the sky. There is great rejoicing in the heavens and on earth, and the statues and carvers dance in ecstatic union with the divine. This unity is called Mokshya and means enlightenment, the highest stage of devotion. In this piece the dancer and the dance become one, as the dancer offers herself in complete surrender to the Divine.

Following this dance piece is a prayer for the setting sun: “As the sun sets behind the great mountain with the brilliant light shining on the horizon, Ratri Natha (the lord of night, the moon) rises, bringing the cycle of day and night.”

This new work was made possible in part by funding from the San Francisco Foundation.

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