In the spirit of dance
Odissi dancer Reela Hota who has 25 years of experience in the dance form will be presenting a thematic dance on the Vedas at Pai Hall, Ravindra Bhavan, Margao. NT BUZZ reports
RAMANDEEP KAUR | NT BUZZ
Spiritual subjects attract odissi dancer Reela Hota. In fact she often incorporates philosophy in her dance. Her first production ‘Atma Mukti’ was based on yogic philosophy and she followed these up with works based on kundaini, the healing aspect of Sanskrit, the spiritual message hidden in Rabindranath Tagore’s poems and so on.
And now the dancer, who has previously visited Goa, both as part of performances and as a tourist, is all set to return for yet another performance on March 14, 7 p.m. at Pai Hall, Ravindra Bhavan, Margao. The programme is presented by Vasantrao Dempo Education and Research Foundation.
This time around she will be presenting a thematic dance based on the Vedas. The reason for choosing this subject, she says is that at this stage of her life, she is seeking to understand the subtle dimensions of life and after life. Also, she feels that the Vedas give a roadmap to peace and success in every phase in life. “The knowledge given in the Vedas enhances my life, while the Vedic mantras transfer power to me,” she adds.
The choreography for the show has been done by yoga guru Bijoylaxmi Hota, who is Reela’s mother. Bijoylaxmi trained in dance for many years but did not pursue it as a career.
This dance, says Reela, has already premiered in Delhi in 2017 in collaboration with Ministry of Culture. It travelled to Mozambique in 2018. Originally a dance with five group members, a smaller version with two dancers (Reela will be performing together with Sudarshan Sahoo) is being presented to the people of Goa.
“Since it is pre-rehearsed piece, some amount of rehearsals goes in right before the performance. Even when performances are not scheduled, I usually practice dancing four days a week for two hours,” says Reela.
In fact, Reela usually begins her day with about an hour of yoga and also tries to squeeze in 5-15 minutes of running. “It used to be far more intensive 5-10 years ago but now I seem to have found my rhythm,” states the Delhi-based dancer.
Born in Odisha, Reela reveals that as per traditional culture in the state, girls are usually put in a dance class while boys are taught an instrument. “Living and growing up in Odisha, the only dance style available was odissi. In fact, even today, there is not a single kathak, bharatnatyam or any other classical style of dance school that exists in Odisha. So by default I learnt odissi and over time fell in love with it,” she says.
Over the years, Reela has diversified her range of productions by inculcating different classical dance forms of India namely manipuri, kathak, bharatnatyam and chhau together with odissi. The exploration of the Tagore poems for instance was a fusion of different classical Indian styles like odissi, kathak, and manipuri. ‘Sanskrit-the Mantra Bhasha’ was a fusion of odissi and ballet from Bucharest Opera House. ‘Antar Yatra’ was about refining the individual by cleansing his chakras and was a fusion of classical, folk and contemporary dances.
But how does one keep the essence of the different dance forms in such a collaborative performance? “Most classical dance forms in India as similar so there is no question of a clash. It is however difficult to fuse classical with folk music,” she says.
And while collaboration of different dance forms in a performance has become quite popular these days, Reela believes that traditional dances will continue to attract an audience. “It has survived from the beginning of civilisation. I don’t think it is about to fade off in a hurry,” she says.
(The event will be inaugurated by Governor of Goa Mridula Sinha. Children below 10 years not allowed. Free entry. Details: firstname.lastname@example.org.)