Nrityanjali Dances the Divine

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Jyoti Rout and Jyoti Kala Mandir present “Nrityanjali,” a dance to honor the divine. Odissi is an ancient and sacred dance, which originated in the Jagannath temple in Puri as a form of worship. This highly stylized dance form utilizes powerful, energetic footwork (tandava) juxtaposed against sinuous, graceful postures and movements (lasya). Handed down from guru to disciple for thousands of years, odissi centers on spirituality and devotion. Its breathtakingly beautiful poses reflect the sculptures from the temples of Puri, Konark, and Bhubaneswar. Rout and her troupe of graceful dancers bring these sculptures to life.

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“Nrityanjali” opens with Samudra, an invocation to the ocean. Lasya Pallavi is an item of pure dance or Nritta, dance in response to music, without a narrative. Beautiful dance passages are born as the rhythmic syllables of the raga unfold.
An odissi dance performance typically includes pieces of pure dance (Nritta), and abhinaya and dance dramas in which mythological stories are narrated. The third piece, Saja Kanja Nayana, is an abhinaya, portraying the divine love of Radha and Krishna. This will be followed by a dance drama Draupadi, describing Draupadi’s humiliation and her ultimate surrender to the divine.
Rout will be accompanied by her senior students, all of whom she has groomed into successful soloists. For the odissi dancer, dance is more than a stage performance, it is an act of worship that enables both the performers and the audience to glimpse the divine.

Sunday, Sept. 13, 5 p.m. Julia Morgan Theater, 2640 College Ave., Berkeley. $12 advance general; $18 at door; $12 advance student/senior; $15 at door. (510) 845-8542. www.juliamorgan.org.

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