Odissi is an Indian classical dance that traces its origin to the State of Odisha in India, and dates back to the 2nd century B.C. based on archaeological evidence and mention in the Natya Shastra written in 300 B.C. by Bharat Muni. This dance has survived through centuries with a vitality for us today illustrating how human nature continues to present universal truths through our arts. It has intricate footwork, extensive use of abhinaya (facial expressions), elaborate use of mudras (hand gestures), and the innovative Sanchari Bhav (transcendental experience) as introduced in Odissi by Guru Mayadhar Raut in 1950s. Traditionally, only temple dancers or “Maharis” performed Odissi in the inner chambers of the Temples during the celebration of religious festivals, ceremonies and other social events. Later it was the "Gotipuas" or male dancers who contributed to the preservation and propagation of Odissi. Today it is performed as a Classical Dance style maintaining its original form, comparable to other international classical dances. Dedicated to Padmashri Guru Mayadhar Raut (a Gotipua dancer in his childhood), Mala's School in NY promotes, and perpetuates this traditional dance form through performances and productions, classes, workshops, lecture-demonstrations, contemporary choreography, annual student events and community programs.
Our Logo! Source: Guru Mayadhar Raut, Artist: K. Moharana (1958): Guruji spent days and nights in the Temples of Odisha with the artist to create a descriptive and visual language for Odissi. As he codified and created a teaching syllabus based in Temple carvings, pencil and charcoal sketches were included in the written texts. This painting is one Guruji has selected for our School in NY.