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Odissi takes over Italy!

SHE FELL in love with India 27 years ago and then she made India her abode. Illeana Citaristi, an Odissi dancer says, ?My actual birth happened in Italy but I was reborn in India 27 years ago. And since then I?m here.? She has been living in Orissa since 1979 in close contact with the people, their language and culture. She is equally at home with the different martial postures of the Chhau dance of Mayurbhanji.

india Updated: Apr 01, 2006 00:53 IST

SHE FELL in love with India 27 years ago and then she made India her abode.

Illeana Citaristi, an Odissi dancer says, “My actual birth happened in Italy but I was reborn in India 27 years ago. And since then I’m here.” She has been living in Orissa since 1979 in close contact with the people, their language and culture. She is equally at home with the different martial postures of the Chhau dance of Mayurbhanji. She has been awarded the Padam Shree this year. She is in Lucknow to perform on Odissi Divas.

There are a number of things she loves about India. “India has a unique capacity to accommodate. So many different ideologies and cultures exist in one country and under a singular umbrella. I also like the relaxed pace at which the people live their life. There is no hurry to do anything.”

So how did she land in India? “I had come to India to learn a few dance movements for my theatre. But luckily so few movements were replaced by a full career in dance,” says Ileana, adding, “Once I came to India I didn’t go back for six years.” Talking about her memorable performances she says, “One of the most memorable performances for me was when my parents came to Mumbai to watch my performance. They were seeing me perform for the first time. They were very skeptic about my decision to stay back in India. But, when they saw my performance they were sure that I had taken the right step.” She adds, “And then obviously I can never forget my first on stage performance. I was sweating badly. I was too nervous and excited. There was excitement right from dressing up to doing to the stage to perform.” Ileana is a National Award winner for Best Choreography for Aparna Sen’s film ‘Yugant’. “That was the first time that I was choreographing. The film was a good experience. And I didn’t even know that I had got the National Award until someone called to tell me about it.”

And now after the hard work, “it is for the first time that I will go home for a month. And I am quite looking forward to it,” she says.