World Arts West
SF Ethnic Dance Festival



GENRE: Odissi
DIRECTOR: Guru Jyoti Rout
CHOREOGRAPHER: Guru Deba Prasad Das, Guru Jyoti Rout
First Appearance in SF EDF: 2006

On the East coast of India facing the Bay of Bengal is the opulent state of Orissa, known for its thousands of magnificent temples. Both a popular tourist and pilgrimage destination, Orissa has some extraordinary religious festivals that center around its famed temples. Its heritage includes a commingling of three great religions: Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.

One of India’s main classical dance forms, odissi, was birthed in the glorious temple of Jagannath in Orissa. Depictions of this dance can be seen on temples as far back as the 1st century. Originally intended to serve as a form of worship and meditation, classical Indian dance served other purposes as well. The first performers of odissi outside the temple were known as Gotipuas, a caste of male youth, who performed for the masses to convey spiritual ideas and to pass on the stories of Hindu mythology. Temple dancers, known as Maharis, continued the tradition within the temple as a form of devotion, and a later form called Nartki developed in the courts for entertainment.

The dancers are both senior members of Jyoti Kala Mandir Performing Company, directed by Bay Area odissi dance master Jyoti Rout.


TITLE OF PIECE: Das Avatar-The Ten Incarnations of Lord Vishnu
CHOREOGRAPHER: Guru Deba Prasad Das, Guru Jyoti Rout
DANCERS: Amanda Geroy, Shalini Goel

repertoire includes many storytelling forms that use abhinaya, or dramatic mime, to convey the meaning of a song or enact characters from Hindu mythology. Vishnu, known as the Preserver, is part of the Hindu Trinity, and often takes the form of an avatar, the bodily manifestation of an immortal being. In the complex Hindu pantheon, Vishnu is known to have ten great avatars in the form of various animals (fish, tortoise, boar, lion) and human beings. Each of these avatars appeared during different epochs, each  however, with his incarnations in with a distinct purpose on earth. Vishnu is most prominently identified,the form of Krishna and Rama, admired for their courage and wisdom as illustrated in the illustrious Hindu epics the Mahabharata and Ramayana.

With sinuous poses, powerful stances, symbolic hand gestures and dramatic facial expressions, Rasa Dance Company performs an odissi dance version of Das Avatar – The Ten Incarnations of Lord Vishnu.

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