Sattriya Dance Company
DANCE ORIGIN: Assam
ARTISTIC DIRECTORS/DANCERS: Madhusmita Bora, Prerona Bhuyan
First Appearance in EDF: 2014
Sattriya is the name of this company, and also the name of India’s eighth designated classical dance form. In the late 15th century, Vaishnavite saint, scholar, poet, and social/religious reformer Mahapurush Srimanta Sankardev initiated a Krishna-based religious practice with a philosophy of peace, equality, and a classless society. He spread his religion through operatic classical-folk plays. In local languages, musicians and actors enacted stories from Hindu mythology including anecdotes from Lord Krishna’s life. The dances from these plays eventually stood on their own, becoming Sattriya Nritya. The name evolved from the sattras, institutions where Sankardev’s disciples practice and nurture this art form in daily religious and communal service.
Sattriya is not a dance form currently danced or taught in the Bay Area. Sattriya Dance Company is a Philadelphia-based dance company launched in 2009 with a mission to tell the story of Sattriya and raise awareness about Majuli and the sattras through performances, lecture demonstrations, and classes; and to promote Sattriya. This dance is a living art form in India, preserved and practiced by celibate monks on the river island of Majuli. The dance was not accessible to women until recently. In 2000, the Indian Government recognized Sattriya as the 8th official classical Indian dance form, and relatively few people have ever had the opportunity to watch this dance in person.
TITLE: Guru Bondona/Karatala Kamala; Chali Naas/Joyo Joyo Ram
CHOREOGRAPHERS: Guru Bondona/Karatala Kamala - Ramkrishna Talukdar;
Chali Naas/Joyo Joyo Ram - Padmashree Jatin Goswami
ARTISTIC DIRECTORS/DANCERS: Madhusmita Bora, Prerona Bhuya
The first piece opens with Guru Bondona, a eulogy written for Sankardev by his foremost disciple, Madhabdev. The choreography is by Ramkrishna Talukdar with music by Bhaskarjyoti Ojha and Ram Krishna Talukdar.
The euology piece begins with Chali Naas. It is in Sattriya’s lasya (graceful) style, inspired by dancing peacocks, a pure (nritta) dance, presented as it was preserved for centuries by monks dressed as women. Then the dancers segue into Joyo Joyo Ram—set to a “Great Song” by disciple Madhabdev. The piece eulogizes Lord Ram, the just King of the Raghukula Dynasty. Lord Ram befriended Hanuman and Sugreeva and built a bridge over the ocean with a helpful army of monkeys and bears. He defeated Sri Lanka’s ten-headed king and returned victorious in a chariot of flowers, to the music of mridangam, drum, and conch shells. Choreography is by Padmashre Jatin Goswami, with music by Dhrubajyoti Baruah.
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