Reviving the most Unique Art Form
A new platform for the artists
To revive the lost glory of Mayurbhanj Chhau
Project Chhauni , an Initiative of District Administration Mayurbhanj to Revive the lost glory of Mayurbhanj Chhau, was initiated with an idea of facilitating the artistes of Mayurbhanj chhau with an apt scope of training and subsequent performance leading to a respectable livelihood.
It was launched on 19th May 2016 By Sri Rajesh Prabhakar Patil (Collector and D.M , Mayurbhanj) at Baripda, Mayurbhanj. The Project was prepared by Ms. Subhasree Mukherjee a chhau dancer and resident of Mayurbhanj, who has also worked closely with chhau artiste and organizers in the past.
To initiate a developmental approach in the training and performance of Chhou dance of Mayurbhanj a detailed Survey of the Socio Economic Status of the Artists was conducted in the length and breadth of the district. The survey team and its members visited every single village where an Organization promoting and practicing chhou was present, filled forms with relevant information and interacted them with the shortcomings they face. With the help of the data collected in the survey interventional measures were planned to improve the condition of living of numerous artistes of Chhau in the district and plans were prepared to further promote the dance world wide.
As primarily it was noticed during the survey that the organizations in the rural belt of the District who have high motivation towards learning the dance lacked a curriculum for proper training in dance and music, a curriculum was prepared after much research with the current Gurus and Senior Artistes. It will be now available in the District Culture Office on request.
To reinitiate the Guru-sishya Parampara, ideally practiced in the past to infuse the artistic values and competitive spirit among the students, Project Chhauni has established Mayurbhanj Chhau Academy. Under this Academy there will be Training Classes at various places of the District which will impart proper standardize training to the next generation and prepare them for future performances.
As it was found while interacting with many Gurus and Senior Artistes of Mayurbhanj Chhau that the number of performances have gone through a subsequent decrease in the past few years Project Chhauni was committed towards creating the “Mayurbhanj Chhau Performing Unit”. For this a selection process was put in place and Artiste were categorized according to their talent to get appropriate chances of performance and apt reputation and remuneration. Project Chhauni will always create scope of training and proper exposure to the artistes. It will strive to provide better costumes and other inputs to upgrade the current scenario. In the coming days we are coming up with interactional training workshops to choreograph both traditional and contemporary chhau repertoire.
The Mayurbhanj District of Odisha is famous for many a things, which gives it a prominent place in the discussion of nature, art and Culture of India. Among those many things Mayurbhanj Chhau is one of the most Unique Art form which has gave Mayurbhanj its worldly identity. As far as the Origin of this style of dance and music is concerned there are many theories, historical anecdotes, some say it has come from the word ‘Chhatak’ or ‘Chhaii’ and some say it has been derived from the word ‘Chhauni’. Whatever may be the origin, Chhau is an excellent medium of art for its vibrant moves and music and the indigenous religious practices attached to it. Through all these years Mayurbhanj Chhau has been through many alleys, some stiff some smooth but its voyage goes on… It continues to attract artiste, art lovers from all over the world who go mesmerized with its inherent vigor.
The Origin of Chhau
Many Scholars down the years have deeply followed the colloquial stories about the origin of Mayurbhanj chhau , and connecting one leading fact to another they have come with some conceivable theories behind the evolution of this dance form. Although these theories are contradictory in themselves, the truth behind Origin of Chhau partially belongs to all these theories.
A group of historians and Scholars imply that Chhau in the past and present has been prevalent in the eastern zone of India, primarily in the Odiya speaking region. The geographical names of these area are Bhanjabhum (now-Mayurbhanj), Singhbhum (now-Sareikela) and Manabhu (now –Purulia). They further mention that in the past all these area were under the rule of the Gajapati Kings of Odisha. Some of the regions were directly ruled by them and some were managed and controlled by their feudatory Chiefs. These feudatory Chiefs were the Maharajas of Mayurbhanj , Sareikela and the Rajas of Dhalbhum, Manabhum and Kharasuan. Perhaps for this reason the cultural practices of these places are identical in nature.
In the early years of its evolvement chhau was purely martial, but when it attracted the Royal Families, the travelers to this regions it started getting characters. Mythological stories, became the main subject around which it was choreographed. Similarly, the martial music started incorporating folk songs of Jhumar, and the excerpts from Hindustani classical music and Odissi music.
The Mayurbhanj Chhau dance grew and developed with the Royal patronage of the rulers of the earstwhile Mayurbhanj State. It reached its pinnacle due to the proper financial assistance and personal involvement of the members of the Royal Family.
In the past years the dance has witnessed many changes. Foreign Artistes have embraced it with complete dedication and also artistes from other dance forms have experimented with chhau in their contemporary creations.
ALEKH NIRANJAN BISOI
ATUL CHANDRA DHADA
BANKIM CHANDRA BAITHA
BHABANI SANKAR DAS
BRUNDABAN CHANDRA BHANJDEO
BULU SAI BABU
DILLIP KUMAR MISRA
GANESWAR KUANR BABU
HEMA CHNADRA BEHERA
JANMEJOY SAI BABU
KARTIK CHANDRA PAL
KESAB CHANDRA BHANJA
KRUSHNA CHANDRA NAYAK
LAL MOHAN PATRA
MOHAMMED RAJA KHAN
RADHA KRUSHNA BHANJA
RAGHUNATH SINGH CHAUHAN
RAM CHANDRA DAS (Superintendent of Police)
RAMESH CHANDRA DAS
SARBESWAR KUANR BABU
SUNDAR MOHAN NAIK
USTAAD BHAGABAN DAS
At first the five elements, visualised through different choreographic patterns, are shown in their original and harmonious state; Earth-solid, Water-liquid, Fire-heat. Wind-prana. Ether-space.
Intrusion by men and technology lead to the collapse of the original balance.The consequences are shown in the form of negative forces, which circumscribe, block, separate and create hostility among elements, leading the different forms of existence towards self destruction.
In the last segment the re-establishment of balance between macro and micro-cosmos is shown through the rediscovery of an intimate relationship between Man and Nature.
Concept and choreography - Dr. Ileana Citaristi | Music composition - Shantanu Mohapatra, Niranjan Bhol | Dancers - Chauni project, Mayurbhanji | Lights - Lalatendu Panigrahi
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