Breaking coronavirus barriers: Odissi Gurus go online to teach students (The New Indian Express)

“A France-based artiste Mahina Khanum took the internet by storm as she uploaded a video of spreading awareness on the outbreak using steps of Odissi.”

BHUBANESWAR: The global pandemic may have disrupted lives but failed to contain artistic expression, teaching and learning. Amid the nationwide lockdown, performing arts is flourishing through digital platform as Odissi Gurus have turned to online training in dance and music.

From composing new production to monitoring a student’s ‘abhinaya’ or ‘nrutya’, software like Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Skype and instant messengers are enabling the Gurus to walk into the new territory of technology to fulfil requirements during the modern-day crisis.

While practical classes can be challenging to be conducted, Guru Illeana Citaristi is emphasising more on the theoretical aspects. Since the past three days, she started teaching her students of a national institute and another training centre, Art Vision, the theories of Odissi using Microsoft Teams.

“During regular days, we tend to ignore the theory sometimes due to lack of time. But it is the right moment which can be utilised in teaching students about the nuances of Odissi, its techniques, history and the lives of Odissi legends,” she said.

For Guru Aruna Mohanty, the teachings involve both theory and practical sessions. For her students of Orissa Dance Academy, she has formed a Whatsapp group for distributing assignments. While practising the steps at home, her students make small video clips of their performance.

“They send the videos to the WhatsApp group for my reviewing and evaluation. We are composing music for dance production and sharing it among each other via emails and video chat. We have plenty of time to focus on scripting, visualisation, etc. We are working peacefully,” she said, adding that her new production may highlight how the lockdown emphasised various layers of life.

Students of Nrutya Naivedya have uploaded more than 15 videos of their self-practise sessions at home on social media for the junior artistes to pursue. Dressed in casual attires, the artistes can be seen practising various ‘abhinaya’ or solo ‘pallavi’ in such videos-shot on terraces, backyards, gardens or closed rooms.

Guru Pravat Kumar Swain has also launched his Youtube channel to upload videos of his training session titled ‘Sadhana’ while senior artiste Jyoti Rout is using the internet to teach Odissi to her students across the world, including India, Seattle, San Francisco, etc.

Meanwhile, a France-based artiste Mahina Khanum took the internet by storm as she uploaded a video of spreading awareness on the outbreak using steps of Odissi. Odissi musicians and vocalists are also training students online to keep art alive during the crisis.