Seeking a Renaissance in San Francisco
“Traditions Engaged is a major, historic festival spanning two of the U.S.’ most prominent cities in premiere venues. Featuring leading Indian classical dancers and musicians and more than sixty artists over six days. Dozens of exciting and insightful daytime performances. 18 major performers in the evening.” — CDDC
Preparing for the Traditions Engaged (TE) festival coming up on October 1-3, I will be introducing the various Indian Classical Dance forms every week, with a brief profile on the art form, a TE artist spotlight, and a schedule of upcoming festival performances. This week’s topic will include Gaudiya Nritya.
Gaudiya Nritya (or Gauriya Nritya) is one of the classical dances of India. It originated in the Western Indian state of Bengal. The word “Gaudiya” itself means old Bengal. The dance form can trace its roots back to the Natyashatra, in which four Pravrittis are mentioned: Dakshinatya, Audramagadhi, Avanti, and Punchali. The ancient traditions declined in the centuries leading up to the British Raj in India.
In the 20th century the traditions were revived and Gaudiya Nritya developed from the Audramagadhi tradition.
Traces of the dance form can also be noted in temple sculptures as early as the 4th century B.C. Similar to other Indian classical dances, Gaudiya Nritya was passed down through the Devadasi system of Gauda Banga, the Vaishnavite Sevadasis, and Nachnis of Western Bengal.
The dance is a unique combination of history, literature, poetry, drama, music, and rhythm. Gaudiya Nritya has elements of Chhau (heroic dance), Nachni (aspects of Shringara Rasa), Kushan (depicting stories of Lav and Kush from the Ramayana), and Kirtan (devotional aspect).