Sreyashi Dey and the Akshara Ensemble

Classical Odissi Dance

Sreyashi Dey and the Akshara dance ensemble will present pieces from the classical Odissi repertoire, including an abhinaya (expressional dance) by Sreyashi, narrating the Radha-Krishna love story, Naba Durga (the nine forms of Goddess Durga) and a rhythmic, melodious piece Pallavi by the dancers of the Akshara ensemble – Sampurna Datta, Soumi Ghosh, Ayishwariya Premanathan, Jayeeta Sen, Sonam Chakraborty, Kisa Bandyopadhyay, Asmita Bhattacharya and Shubhadra Pillay.

Sreyashi Dey is one of the foremost Odissi dancers in the US. With a long and distinguished performance career in the US, India and many other parts of the world, she is also a thoughtful choreographer and has founded two arts organizations – Srishti and Akshara. She has been honored by awards and grants from regional, state and national organizations such as the National Endowment for the Arts, and her performances have received glowing reviews in media such as the New York Times. Sreyashi Dey, along with the Akshara ensemble will present the Odissi style of Indian classical dance. While Sreyashi Dey will perform a solo piece, there will be two other Odissi pieces performed by the ensemble.

Odissi Segment Details:

Bajuchi Sahi
This is an Oriya abhinaya, or expressional dance piece in which Radha’s friend playfully teases her about her love affair with Krishna. She tells Radha that the whole town of Braja is resounding with rumors of her scandalous relationship with Krishna. The friend says: when Krishna emerges from the forest and you, Radha stand on your balcony, feeding the pigeons or drying you hair, the intense looks which take place between you two do not go unnoticed. Radha, when you go to the river Jamuna to bathe, and you see Krishna’s reflection in the water as he sits on the kadamba tree closeby, those passionate looks between the two of you do not go unnoticed. Even Chandrabali, your rival, claims that while in her arms, Krishna only utters your name! Radha, rumors of your love affair with Krishna are spreading through the city of Braja.

Dancer: Sreyashi Dey
Choreography: Guru Gangadhar Pradhan & Guru Smt. Aruna Mohanty
Music: Bijaya Kumar Jena

Naba Durga
Naba Durga is an invocation to Goddess Durga, an embodiment of female strength in Hindu mythology. Durga’s eyes are like the sun and the moon, and her body glows like fire. She fights fiercely with the buffalo demon Mahisasura and destroys him. She represents sakti or strength, and she is also the benevolent the mother. She is nine forms all in one, “Naba Durga.”

Durga of the Forest
The great goddess
Durga of the Mountains
The victorious one
The one who destroys evil
The slayer of the demon Mahisasura
The embodiment of power
Durga of darkness
The one who loves and one who fights
The dancer says through her dance, “I invoke you into my body.”

Dancers: Soumi Ghosh, Sampurna Datta and Ayishwariya Premanathan
Choreography: Guru Pankaj Charan Das
Music: Guru Harihara Panda

Basant Pallavi
Pallavi is a rhythmic, pure dance piece in the Odissi repertoire. It is based entirely on the melodic and rhythmic structure of the accompanying music, which is based on a traditional raga of classical Odissi music. Pallavi begins with slow, graceful and lyrical movements of the eyes, neck, torso and feet, elaborating the beauty of the raga as it unfolds. It slowly builds in complexity, along with the music, like the tendrils of a creeper. Finally, it builds up in a crescendo to a climax in a fast tempo at the end. This Pallavi is evocative of the beauty of spring, and hence its name Basant Pallavi.

Dancers: Jayeeta Sen, Kisa Bandyopadhyay, Sonam Lahiri, Asmita Bhattacharya and Shubhadra Pillay
Choreography: Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra
Music: Guru Bhubaneswar Mishra