Friday, December 16, 2005

Dance is a celebration of the divinity of being

Sharon Lowen has dedicated her life to presenting and promoting excellence in Indian performing arts. Sharon is hailed today as one of the leading international performing artists of three forms of Indian dance: Odissi, Chhau and Manipuri. This is a remarkable achievement for an artist from the U.S.A. who first arrived in India in 1973 after acquiring her Bachelors and Masters degrees in Humanities, Fine Arts, Asian Studies and Dance from the University of Michigan as a Fulbright Scholar to continue her studies of Manipuri and learn Odissi and Chhau. Sharon has made her home in India to dedicate herself to her work as an artist and to promote education in the arts.
A scholar, teacher and performing artist, Sharon has been trained since 1975 in Odissi by the doyen of the art, Padmavibhushan Kelucharan Mohapatra; in Manipuri by Minati Roy from 1969 through 1971 and from 1973 by Guru Singhajit Singh in Delhi and Ranjani Maibi and Thangjam Chaoba Singh in Manipur; in Mayurbhanj Chhau by Late Guru Krishna Chandra Naik and in Seraikella Chhau by Guru Kedarnath Sahoo. She is the first woman soloist of a previously all-male form, responsible for introducing Mayurbhanj Chhau to the United States at the 1978 Asian Dance Festival in Hawaii and later at the Olympic Arts Festival of Masks in Los Angeles and is singularly responsible for getting Chhau presented on Doordarshan' s National Broadcasts. She has also choreographed and performed Odissi dance in Telegu, Bengali, Malayalam, Tamil, Hindi as well as Sanskrit and Oriya for performances and festivals around India, Doordarshan National Indian Television, and internationally.
Dance is a celebration of the divinity of being. In India the art of Dance is a result of thousands of years of refinement and countless cycles of artists and Gurus. Odissi invokes the grace of Lord Jagannatha, the Lord of the Universe, another attribute to Vishnu. Orissa is known as the land of temples and Odissi became an inseparable part of the rituals of the temple since the 9th Century. Odissi dance reflects the sculpturesque poses of temples dating back to the second century, B.C. in the rounded curves and flexions of the style, especially the "Tribanga" or "triple-bend" pose. The fact that this dance has survived so many centuries and has a vitality for us today illustrates how human nature continues to present universal truths through our arts. This is an art not only for connoisseurs, but is intended for all the people to enjoy, to embrace and to share.
Padma Vibhushan Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra is the primary architect in the revival of classical Odissi dance over the past half-century. Past 75 years, he is the undisputed master performing artist, choreographer, teacher and percussionist of Odissi dance. He has received every possible award, has trained most of the leading exponents of the form and is the revered and respected for his genius as an artist all over the world. Sharon had the privilege to study with Kelubabu from 1975 and having Kelubabu present her Odissi and Manipuri performance in Orissa in 1976. He has accompanied her on pakawaj for performances around India and on tour in the U S during the Festival of India – USA and performed together at the Metropolitan Museum in NYC.

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