US-based Odissi dancers overwhelmed by caves, carvings at Udayagiri-Khandagiri hills

Bhubaneswar: A team of Odissi dancers from California, US, were overwhelmed with joy discovering the depiction of Odissi dance form in caves and carvings in Udayagiri-Khandagiri hills here today.

During visit to the city and taking part in the fifth Monks, Caves and Kings – the weekly heritage walk in the twin hills, the team comprising of 10 Odissi dancers were surprised to see the fully developed dance form in stones in full costumes, musicians and accompanying artists at Udayagiri caves.

Among 10 foreign nationals, nine were from the US and one from the UK. The team was led by Revital Carroll, a dancer with 20 years of learning experience in Odissi from eminent Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra, Guru Bichitrananda Swain and now from Guru Sujata Mohapatra. Carroll owns a dancing school `Shakti Bhakti’ for Odissi in USA and inspiring people to learn the classical dance form.

“The dancers from various walks of life, as members of the team will stay about three weeks in Odisha to learn different things about Odissi, i.e. how the beautiful sarees are made in western Odisha with the unique tie and dye technique. They will also visit craftsmen, who manufacture the crown or `tahia’ used by dancers during the Odissi performances,” said Carroll.

The artists also lauded Odisha and Bhubaneswar for the temple art.

Rumy Narayanan, an Indian-origin girl who is learning Odissi from Carroll at Shakti Bhakti in California and came to Odisha for the first time, said “I am enjoying the place so much as Odisha and especially the Temple City Bhubaneswar is a beautiful place where the ancient temple art is showcased amidst the modern development.”

She felt happy that she got opportunity to visit the land from where the classical dance form Odissi originated.

“I am delighted that during the heritage walk in Udayagiri-Khandagiri Hills we are also experiencing the historical genesis of the dance,” she added.

Guide Satya Swarup Mishra said, “we do not know, which one came first, the monks or the caves or the kings, but interestingly at Udayagiri there are also ancient caves with art by pre-historic men proving a point that the caves might be existing there much before the beginning of Jainism or Emperor Kharavela. However, while there were more than 100 caves during the ancient ties, currently less than 40 are existing as many could have been demolished during procurement of huge stones, for the temple building work in Old Town or Ekamra Kshetra.”

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