Odissi Vilas: Sacred Dance of India

Northeast Indian Odissi

Odissi Vilas: Sacred Dance of India is a San Francisco Bay Area collective that seeks to promote, educate, and delight audiences with the beauty, grace, and spirituality of Odissi dance.

Odissi dance, one of the eight classical dance genres of India, is one of the oldest surviving dance forms of India.  In ancient India the temple was the center of learning, culture, religion and art.  In the temples of Orissa, in northeastern India, religious rituals, music, and dance were combined together to create the highly sculpturesque and devotional dance style, Odissi.  This devotional dance was an intrinsic part of the temple worship.  Devadasis (servants of god/temple dancers), also known as the mahari in Orissa, dedicated themselves to singing and dancing for the pleasure of the gods in the inner sanctum of the temple.

Today, though Odissi dance has stepped out of the temple into mainstream society, it continues to inspire and awaken beauty and grace in the hearts of artists and spectators alike.  In increasing numbers it is brought to life through dedication and devoted work, allowing it to evolve and thrive as it passes from teacher to student, building a future with ancient history and culture into the new millenium.

As a grantee of ACTA’s Living Cultures Grants Program in 2009, Odissi Vilas received support to present Triveni, a concert highlighting three schools of Odissi dance.  Guest artists from India will join Das in a concert, Triveni (confluence of three), exemplifying the role of the male artist in Odissi dance.  Guest artists include Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra, Guru Deba Prasad Das, and Guru Pankaj Charan Das.

In 2006 and 2008, a grant from ACTA’s Living Cultures Grants Program supported Nritya Sangam, an Odissi classical dance concert with guest artist ensemble, Rudrakshya.  The concert celebrated Odissi repertoire from two styles and highlighted the male role in Odissi dance.

As a participant in ACTA’s Traditional Arts Development Program in 2007, Odissi Vilas worked with web design firm Netrikon Designs, Inc. to develop and improve their website, as well as train Odissi Vilas staff members in website maintenance.