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The Debaprasad Das Tradition: Reconsidering the Narrative of Classical Indian Odissi Dance History

The Debaprasad Das Tradition: Reconsidering the Narrative of Classical Indian Odissi Dance History

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Title: The Debaprasad Das Tradition: Reconsidering the Narrative of Classical Indian Odissi Dance History
Author: Kar, Paromita
Abstract: This dissertation is dedicated to theorizing the Debaprasad Das stylistic lineage of Indian classical Odissi dance. Odissi is one of the seven classical Indian dance forms recognized by the Indian government. Each of these dance forms underwent a twentieth century “revival” whereby it was codified and recontextualized from pre-existing ritualistic and popular movement practices to a performance art form suitable for the proscenium stage. The 1950s revival of Odissi dance in India ultimately led to four stylistic lineage branches of Odissi, each named after the corresponding founding pioneer of the tradition.
I argue that the theorization of a dance lineage should be inclusive of the history of the lineage, its stylistic vestiges and philosophies as embodied through its aesthetic characteristics, as well as its interpretation, and transmission by present-day practitioners. In my theorization of the Debaprasad Das lineage of Odissi, I draw upon Pierre Bourdieu's theory of the habitus, and argue that Guru Debaprasad Das's vision of Odissi dance was informed by the socio-political backdrop of Oriya nationalism, in the context of which he choreographed, but also resisted the heavy emphasis on coastal Oriya culture of the Oriya nationalist movement.
My methodology for the project has been ethnographic, supported by original archival research. In the second chapter, I examine the twentieth century history of this stylistic lineage in the context of the Odissi revival of the 1950s, and in the third chapter, I examine the life and artistic work of its founder, the late Guru Debaprasad Das. The fourth chapter is dedicated to analyzing the stylistic characteristics distinct to this style of Odissi, and examining some of the underlying politics of representation, classicism, and regional affiliations which have informed the repertoire and movement lexicon of this lineage. I point to how this lineage has been historically marginalized in scholarship, discourse, and the international stage, and analyze some of the reasons for this marginalization. The fifth and sixth chapter are dedicated to the current practice of the lineage, including pedagogical practices by current teachers, as well as examination of the creation and performance of new repertoire pieces within this lineage, and the various contexts in which this style of Odissi is performed globally. Ultimately, I examine the divergent artistic voices from within the Debaprasad Das lineage itself and argue that the Debaprasad Das lineage of Odissi is itself marked by heterogeneity via multiple and often divergent understandings of the philosophies of the late Guru Debaprasad Das.
Subject: Dance
Asian studies
Keywords: Paromita Kar
Guru Debaprasad Das
Dance studies
Classical Indian dance
Odissi dance
Dance history
Dance research
Stylistic lineage
Dance lineage
Dance heritage
Multisited ethnography
Archival research
York University
Guru Srinath Raut
Guru Durgacharan Ranbir
Type: Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Rights: Author owns copyright, except where explicitly noted. Please contact the author directly with licensing requests.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10315/27615
Supervisor: Alcedo, Russ Patrick
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Program: Dance Studies
Exam date: 2013-12-13
Publish on: 2014-07-09

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