The Dance Divine
By Ranjana Gauhar; Photographs
by Dushyant Parasher
Odissi, also called the ‘dance of gods’, is the intrinsically passionate style of dance that grew from the traditional temple dance. It has charm, grace, lyricism and sensuousness. In the words of the noted Hungarian Indologist, Charles Fabri, it is ‘the most perfect Indian classical dance form’.
Classical dance is understood to be the synthesis of body and mind because it merges physical energy with emotional and spiritual enthusiasm. India has had many forms of classical dance which have flourished, declined (under foreign influences) and have been revitalised through the ages.
Odissi: The Dance Divine is a chronological survey of the form and style of the dance. The art form today known as Odissi is the descendent of the temple dance that evolved in the Jagannath Temple in Puri. Revered as one of the holiest places in India, the temple was the centre of culture, religion and artistic traditions. In the inner sanctum of this shrine was born the dance of the mahari or temple dancer, which became a tradition and finds expression in the Geeta Govinda that presents Odissi dance as a niti or lifestyle.
The book explores the aesthetics of the dance, which is a living tradition till today. Besides, it gives the readers a brief outline of the architects and contemporary gurus of the dance, and the eminent dancers who are in the forefront of this form of dance.
It was adjudged Best Book, 2007, in Art Book Category by the Federation of Indian Publishers.