Folk matters

On stage: Mayurbhanj Chhau dance by Dayasagar and group

On stage: Mayurbhanj Chhau dance by Dayasagar and group  

Living Traditions celebrates the performative art forms to emerge from Odisha through two days of music, dance and theatre

For the past 11 years, the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) has steadfastly been trying to familiarise people with culture from different regions of the country via the medium of local folk traditions. In accordance with the endeavour is the annual Living Traditions festival. The twelfth edition this year spotlights Odisha’s rich cultural heritage. Over two days, six different troupes will present two forms of music, dance and folk theatre. “Each region has its own cultural ethos which includes, among other things, the food, dress, climate, language and also their art forms,” explains Dr Suvaranalata Rao, Head Programming – Indian Music, NCPA. She adds that the aim of the festival is to make the regional albeit rich heritage of the country more accessible to audiences. Folk performers from the western, eastern and southern regions of Odisha – Balangir, Puri and Mayurbhanj — will be presented with a narration in Hindi by folklorist Rakesh Tiwari. Plus, school children will also be displaying paintings and art forms from the State.

Form and function

The curation of the festival is the result of painstaking effort through multiple visits to the interiors of Odisha, including the jungles and villages “There are no classical or semi-classical art forms – they are traditional and rarely performed, even within Odisha,” says Tiwari.

For Rao, the criteria for the festival is decidedly uncomplicated. “While there may be many intricate art forms, I ask myself which are the ones which can actually be performed,” she says. “A lot of these forms don’t exist for performances,” she says, explaining that the rural folk often break into a song or a dance to celebrate a crop or in praise of nature. “They can just be expressions of joy. When we bring them on to the stage here at NCPA, they become performances,” she adds.

Over 100 artistes from all parts of Odisha will be travelling to the city for the two-day event. “The performances, including the theatre events, will take place in the native language. While there will be a narrator, we encourage people to keep an open mind and see the spirit of the presentation,” she states.

Different mediums

On day one, there will be devotional music by Nilanchal Nanda and members of Dholmuhuri Kalaparishad will present folk songs in praise of male and female deities. It will be followed by a Mayurbhanj Chhau dance by Dayasagar and group. “Unlike other Chhau dance traditions, this is performed without masks and the focus is more on the body movements,” Tiwari informs. The first day will conclude with a folk drama Lok Natya: Raaha by Anveshan, that showcases the culture of the Bonda tribe.

On day two, there will be a folk kirtan with songs invoking blessings of various deities presented by Durga Prasad Barik and members of Bhakti Sandhya Anusthan. The Ghudka dance that follows by Basudev Sa and group originates from the Balangir region, wherein they play a local wooden instrument called ghudka which is covered with iguana skin. A dance drama called Jhoti Chita Muruja by Rangashala concludes the two-day event, based on a story revolving around Lord Jagannath, his wife Lakshmi Devi and his brother Balaram.

Living Traditions will take place on March 6 and 7 at Experimental Theatre, NCPA; see bookmyshow for ticket details

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Printable version | Apr 10, 2020 6:35:52 PM |

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