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  Life   More Features  17 Mar 2017  Dance like a (Wo)man

Dance like a (Wo)man

THE ASIAN AGE. | DYUTI BASU
Published : Mar 17, 2017, 12:16 am IST
Updated : Mar 17, 2017, 6:20 am IST

The form is actually a precursor to the more popular form, Odissi, but has very few exponents in today’s world.

The group is now all set to perform their dance for an audience at the NCPA today.
 The group is now all set to perform their dance for an audience at the NCPA today.

Gotipua is a traditional dance form, which finds its roots in Odisha. The form is actually a precursor to the more popular form, Odissi, but has very few exponents in today’s world. To breathe new life into the dance form, dancer and choreographer Aloka Kanungo established Sthapatya Satya. The group is now all set to perform their dance for an audience at the NCPA today.

“It is a very rigorous dance form, which includes a lot of acrobatics. It is performed by young boys who are still in their adolescence and dress up as girls to perform. They are trained in both music, dance and acrobatics from a very young age before they take to the stage,” she elaborates, adding that the reason why the dance form has become so endangered is because there were superstitions that the dance form affected the growth of the boys.

It took years of research for Aloka to understand the dance form and its significance. The reason for only having adolescent boys for the form is obvious. “The kind of acrobatics that the boys have to do can only be done while the body retains that kind of flexibility and after a certain age, it becomes impossible,” explains Aloka.

However, there are still a number of facts around the dance, which are still somewhat uncertain. One of them is the reason behind the costumes that the boys have to wear. According to Aloka, the birth of the dance was during an era of a lot of socio-political change in the region, which may have been the reason behind the boys’ having to dress up like boys. “One reason could be the sakhi bhava, which was propagated by Chaitanya Prabhu at around this time and propagated the belief that Krishna is the one true male and the rest all female. It could also be because of the parda pratha, which came into practice around this time with the Mughal rule. So, boys were made to dress up as women and dance, since women dancing in public would be seen as a stigma,” she elaborates.

Today, the form is received with much enthusiasm by audiences. “I am reviving an old dance form, but it is new to the audiences and the audience is always eager to watch something new. I want the dance form to come back in full force, and so far the positive response has been very encouraging,” she signs off.

Today, 7 pm onwards, At Experimental Theatre, NCPA, Nariman Point.

Tags: ncpa, gotipua, sthapatya satya