Dancing the Divinity - A Taste of Sattriya
*This program is now full, please email [email protected] if you want to be added to the waitlist.
Free Lunchtime Dance Performance by Anwesa Mahanta
One of the eight principal classical Indian dance traditions, the Sattriya dance, is an offshoot of the Neo-Vaisnava Renaissance in Assam, Northeastern India in the 15th-17th century. Created by Srimanta Sankaradeva (1449-1568), the saint, preacher, poet, playwright, philosopher, reformer, artist and composer, the dance form evolved from the Ankiya Bhaona, Assam’s traditional theatre introduced by the saint where dances were characterized as both vigorous and graceful. Sattriya was later pursued and practiced as part of various prayer services in the Sattra institutions, thus enduring as a living tradition in the Sattras which have enlarged its repertoire and developed an oral grammar with mathematical precision in terms of melodic and rhythmic structure, aesthetics, foot works and hand gestures. All these together have given this Bhakti-ridden tradition a distinct identity not akin to other dance traditions. Supported by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations and Spic Macay, dedicated young exponent of Sattriya dance Anwesa Mahanta will perform a short program of Dancing the Divinity, and answer questions on the evolution of the traditional art form that she has been learning, researching, and interpreting for almost 20 years.
Anwesa Mahanta is currently pursuing her Doctoral degree at the University of Delhi in the area of Performing Arts and Oral Traditions of Assam with a Research Fellowship from the University Grants Commission (India). She attended the University of Gauhati for her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in English Literature. Her research focuses mainly on the studies of Northeastern cultural heritage of India with particular reference to Assam. Belonging to the Vaisnava monastery of Assam together with her own experience of two decades as a performer of Sattriya dance and theatre, her research explorations dwell on the readings of the visual and performance aesthetics of traditional and ritual cultural practices of Assam in the context of its socio-cultural milieu. She is an active performer, an empanelled artist of Indian Council for Cultural Relations, India International Rural Cultural Centre, ‘A’ Grade artist of Doordarshan (Prasar Bharti), the National Broadcasting Channel of India, and has performed in various prestigious platforms in India and abroad. She is also the Festival Director of Pragjyoti International Dance Festival, Joint Secretary of Kalpa. a society for promotion of literature art, culture and social harmony and a member of CID –International Dance Council.