Love for Odissi dance brought these Aussies to Kashi | lucknow | Hindustan Times
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Love for Odissi dance brought these Aussies to Kashi

The group of 14 artistes practises Odissi dance at ghats in morning and evening under the tutelage of Indian classical dance artiste Monica Singh Sangwan, who had migrated to Australia seven years ago. They came in touch with Singh and joined her Odissi classes at different times.

lucknow Updated: Jan 16, 2017 13:51 IST
Sudhir Kumar
Kashi
Aussie dance group performing in Varanasi on Sunday.(HT Photo)

Vrnda Gleeson, Candice Samuel, Catherine Van, Lilia Warum along with 10 other Australians together performed Odissi dace in Banaras, the land of Lord Shiva on Sunday. The group is on an Odissi dance trip to Banaras to understand the bond of guru-shishya parampara common in classical dance and music.

The group of 14 together practice Odissi dance at ghats in morning and evening under the tutelage of Indian classical dance artist Monica Singh Sangwan, who had migrated to Australia seven years ago. They came in touch with Singh and joined her Odissi classes at different times.

Singh, the guru, accompanied her pupils to Banaras. “Banaras is the heart of India. Every community is represented here in its microcosm. It is the last city of the ancient world to retain traces of a way of life at least 3000 years old. In this city, the spiritual and cultural centre, guru-shishya parampara flourishes. Therefore, I chose this city to give an experience of learning Odissi in the gurukul style,” she says.

“The students and the teacher living in proximity with each other sharing not just the teaching hours but also are interacting holistically post practice hours where sometimes the most valuable exchange of idea and teaching happen,” Singh further adds.

Over my many years of experience as an Odissi teacher and dancer, I have observed the frustration that many dancers from other cultures face due to the lack of cultural proximity and understanding of the inherent Indian cultural nuances in Odissi dance.

Vrnda Gleeson, a Melbourne-based painter, came in touch with Singh around three years ago since then she regularly practices Odissi. “I feel honoured after performing in the cultural capital of India. I love Odissi dance and practice and perform with passion,” Gleeson says.

Candice Samuel, an art teacher, echoed similar sentiments and lauded her teacher for teaching them the nuances of Odissi dance, which is now an emotional affair for her. “Practicing and performing Odissi dance in Banaras is a mind blowing experience,” Samuel said.

Thanh Hang also enjoys performing Odissi. She said, “Learning Odissi is very crucial for us since I am learning a new culture altogether. Being into Banaras is really great.” She along with others performed Odissi. The group together depicted eternal love between Lord Shri Krishna and Radha and several other mythological stories through odissi.

Also part of the group are Raisa Hashim, Kavisha Alles, Thanh Hang, Ewen So, Catherine Van, Deepa Jakkilinki, Vaishnavi Srinivasan, Sayoni Bhattacharya, and Nishtha Aggarwal. The group arrived in Kashi on December 27 and will stay till January 30.

The group’s day begins with a yoga session followed by vocal training by vocalist Achuta Maharana and Pakhavaj lesson by Manas Kumar Sarangi. Sohamasmi is run by Singh in Melbourne. Eastern UP Exporters association, India Studio organised the event coordinated by UP tourism.

Read more: International Odissi Dance Festival: A fest remembering the maestro