Dancing Like A Boy

They are generally known as Gotipuas (‘goti’ means single and ‘pua’ is boy in Odia), however they've to bop dressed as ladies and in teams.

Traditionally Performed By Young Men, Gotipua, The Precursorof Odissi, Is Being Modernised And Gentrified, Losing The Raw Energy That Is Its Essence

They are generally known as Gotipuas (‘goti’ means single and ‘pua’ is boy in Odia), however they’ve to bop dressed as ladies and in teams. Born out of the custom of devotion, the battle for survival through the years has diminished them to mere entertainers. A precursor of Odissi, Gotipua is now going through the largest menace from Odissi itself.

“There was a time when Odissi followed the Gotipua dance style. Now it is the other way round — Gotipuas follow Odissi,” stated Sangeet Natak Akademi awardee and well-known Gotipua guru Birabar Sahoo in an interview to this author a couple of years in the past. .

Ironically, on a current journey to village Dimirisena, positioned about 35 km from Puri and generally known as the cradle of the 400-year-old Gotipua custom, I attended a dance pageant that featured largely Odissi dancers.

Dancing For Gods

Organised by Satyapira Palai, a widely known Gotipua exponent, the annual occasion was meant to showcase the village’s dance heritage. “It is here that Gotipua is practised as an offering to the divine, and in its most authentic form, without the modern acrobatic movements. We adhered to tradition even with costume, make-up and music. But this meant losing out on performance opportunities outside Dimirisena. Some 30 years ago, for the survival of our troupe, we gave in to the demands of festival organisers and brought about changes in our presentation. Yet, we have not completely lost touch with the tradition of dancing for the gods,” says Satyapira.

If Gotipua dance has survived and is being carried out throughout the globe right this moment, it is because of bandha (complicated physique postures) and the formation of human pyramids that has grow to be the principal attraction of the dance fashion, say its exponents, together with Satyapira.

“Gone are the days when kings and zamindars patronised Gotipua troupes. We are now entirely governed by market forces. So we have no choice but to cater to changing trends,” says Bhubaneswar-based Bijay Kumar Sahoo, an Odissi dancer, who grew up performing Gotipua at Balunkeswar temple in Dimirisena. He now owns a preferred Gotipua troupe, Naxatra Gurukul, that will get a number of alternatives to carry out and earn.

However, there’s one exception. Gautam Mohapatra, who additionally used to carry out at Balunkeswar temple, has been instructing at Nilakentheswar Gotipua gurukul close to Dimirisena for the previous 12 years. He nonetheless follows the custom of the boys singing and dancing concurrently. Gautam’s repertoire has extra avinaya (expressional dance) items set to songs of medieval Odia literature and the choreography excludes gymnastic poses or human pyramids. In 2011, he stunned everybody with a solo presentation within the true custom of ‘Gotipua’, on the first-ever Gotipua pageant hosted by the State authorities in Bhubaneswar.

“When Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s Gaudiya Vaishnavism entered Odisha from Bengal, it influenced a panoply of religious and cultural practices. Its paratopic religiosity generated the Gotipua tradition. Gotipuas were celebrated for their artistic virtuosity and religious devotion,” says Anurima Banerji, affiliate professor of dance on the University of California-Los Angeles, who researched the Devadasi and Gotipua traditions for her not too long ago printed seminal ebook, Dancing Odissi. Unlike the Maharis, the devadasis of Odisha, whose function was confined to the temples, Gotipuas had the benefit of acting at each sacred and secular areas, each for gods and for individuals. As a end result, they’ve been the carriers of Odisha’s dance, music, literature and spiritual beliefs over centuries. Odissi thus owes extra to the Gotipua custom than the Mahari.

“Although Odissi imbibed a lot from Gotipua and gained global recognition as a classical dance form in a very short span of time, Gotipua was totally marginalised. While the child got recognition, the mother was ignored,” rues septuagenarian Guru Gobinda Pal, an exponent of each Gotipua and Odissi.

Artistes like him have cause to be pissed off, what with the Odisha authorities internet hosting and supporting a number of Odissi dance festivals whereas largely ignoring Gotipua. Ashok Kumar Tripathy, former Commissioner of Culture, must be credited with conceptualising and launching a Gotipua pageant in 2011, bringing some hope to dancers on the lookout for state patronage. Eight troupes have been invited to take part within the pageant, the place 21 exponents have been honoured. The authorities declared that the pageant could be an everyday function of the annual cultural calendar, however that has not occurred.

What has hit the artistes actually laborious now could be the Odisha Department of Culture’s newest rule that these searching for admission to the state-run Utkal Sangeet Mahavidyalaya for a level in Odissi, must rating excessive marks of their high-school exams. “It is surprising that our expertise and experience are not being taken into account,” says Gurupada Baliarsingh, secretary of the newly-formed Utkal Samskruti Gotipua Sangha, a discussion board for Gotipua troupes. “Being performers from a young age, we hardly get to focus on academics. We are now demanding reservation of seats in the college for Gotipua dancers.” The winds of change are blowing quick over this previous, conventional type, with Gotipua’s earthy components being refined quickly to make it appear as if Odissi. It’s a course of by which a lot is misplaced.

“The beauty of Gotipua lies in its inherent rawness. Let the thin line of demarcation remain to save Gotipua from further degeneration,” says Guru Gobinda Pal.



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