“It was a magical experience. The grace and poise with which she moved was indeed breathtaking.”
This was all an audience member, overwhelmed with emotion, managed to say when she came out of the Symbiosis Auditorium, where Padmashree Dr. Ileana Citaristi had come to perform.
Thanks to Spic Makay and ICCR many students of Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication got the opportunity of seeing a live Odissi dance performance for the first time in their lives and what they saw left them mesmerized.
After a grand two hour performance, on her way back to the guesthouse, she talked of how her passion for Odissi dance began. She also mentioned the challenges she faced from the constant changes in mindset of the upcoming generations.
Having done a Doctorate in Eastern Philosophy and a thespian, it was during those days that she came across the various dance forms of Kathakali and Odissi. She planned to learn these dance styles for a year or so and go back to theater but meeting her guru Kelucharan Mohapatra completely changed her life.
She recalls that even while she was getting trained, her guru made her give dance lessons to other students and that’s how her dancing skills improved by leaps and bounds. And thus it was only natural that she become of a teacher of the art.
She stressed on the fact that she always had to come up with something new, expand her horizons to keep the interest alive.
With time, she said, it was becoming imperative to become innovative and invent newer compositions. “To move forward one always has to innovate but at the same time the basics have to be kept in mind, else everything will fail.” says Dr. Citaristi, who has also trained under Guru Shri Hari Nayak apart from Guru Padma Vibhushan Kelucharan Mohapatra.
It is commonly known that artists get concepts related to their respective arts going about the daily routine of their lives- while they take a walk or shower or are gardening anything, and this compels me to ask Dr Citaristi the same question. She says that for her it’s just that she thinks of all the abstract
things and then tries to form a composition out of it.
“For example, time is something very abstract. Once I have made up my mind that I want to create a dance composition on that topic, I start referring to the Veda’s, talk about it to people and read from many sources before creating a script and then giving it music.”
I am intrigued to ask her about the reactions she receives from audiences back home in Italy, after her performances. “In Italy, she says, I often perform for audiences who have absolutely no idea what I am doing. Though it has improved in the last 20 years or so, I try to familiarize the audience with the subject and then perform.”- This was something evident in today’s performance at Symbiosis as well.
Many of the students, because of the huge generation gap, are unaware of such a form of art and thus the introduction is given.
Talking about her performance at Symbiosis today, she said that she was happy with the response she got.
“It always feels nice when something you do is appreciated.”
"An interview I took of Mrs. Citaristi who had performed a breathtaking dance in Symbiosis a few months back!!"