recueillis par Philippe Pratx
pour La Nouvelle
Revue de l'Inde et
Citaristi pratique et enseigne la danse, en
Inde, dans l'état d'Orissa. Ses spécialités
: les styles Odissi et Chau, dont elle nous
I was born in Bergamo, Italy and I am now settled
in Orissa, since 1979. For twelve years I resided in Cuttack and then
moved to Bhubaneswar where I built my residence and dance school since
1996. The institution is called ART VISION; I teach Odissi and Chhau
dance to local as well as visiting students.
: So, you are now in India, being a dancer there... When, why and how
did things begin between India and you?
It started when I became interested in Eastern
philosophies in the early seventies. I did my first trip to India by
road in 1974.
Not so well. Still a lot of work has to be done to
make the Indian dance appreciated by the large public.
I first saw a Kathakali performance in Bergamo in
January 1978. That time I was involved with experimental theatre. I was
fascinated by what I saw and asked the actor (Krishna Nomboodiri) if I
could learn some of those movements. He invited me to a workshop in
Srikrishnapuram, Kerala, for three months starting from 1st
of April of the same year. At the end of it he told me about Odissi and
The Chhau which I learnt is the Mayurbhanji one
from Orissa. I first saw it in the Bharathya Kala Kendra in Delhi. I was
fascinated by the movements. When I came to know that it was from
Orissa, I started learning from 1979 itself from Guru Sri Hari Nayak. I
completed six years of training from the Utkal Sangeet Mahavidyalay in
It is a very fluid style, with leg elevations,
broad torso movements and energetic jumps. It derives from the martial
movements of the Paiks, the military soldiers of Orissa. In the course
of time it has assimilated folk and tribal elements from the area where
it is practiced.
The music is both classical and folk. It is based
on North-Indian ragas as well as folk tunes of the Chhotanagpur aerea.
Mayurbhanji does not use masks. Costumes are very
colourful in the Purulia style of Chhau.
The main difference is the use of masks in
Seraikhela and Purulia Chhau. Moreover the Seraikhela style is more
lyrical, the Purulia more acrobatic and the Mayurbhanji more virile.
Recently women have started to perform but they
usually do only female steps.
I have been inspired by the Chhau style for my
innovative choreographies. The first one was on the Greek myth of Echo
and Narcissus composed for the East-West dance encounter in 1985.
To continue teaching, choreographing and