‘Utsav’- Ranjana’s Academy of Odissi Dance is a non-commercial, non –governmental cultural institution. Its aims and objectives are to preserve, promote and propagate India’s prosperous & vast performing arts. The activities of the organization spans a period of 26 years.In recent years there has been resurgence in awareness, recognition and appreciation of the varied Indian art forms. Indian classical music and dance has come to be greatly cherished and ‘Utsav ‘celebrates this spirit with great zeal.
‘Utsav’ endeavours to create further awareness of these performing arts disciplines by organizing annual events such as music seminar, workshop, lec-dem. and two major dance festivals. Every year Utsav holds the International dance festival ‘Unbound Beats of India’ in the month of April, which also includes young artists of foreign origin and Sare Jahan Se Accha in the month of August, where senior artists pay tribute to the nation to celebrate the spirit of India’s independence. Kalingutsav, a new initiative was launched by Utsav in February, 2013 in Delhi to mark another chapter in its activities. It focuses on the ethnic art forms of Odisha in dance and music streams, which have in some way or the other contributed in enriching Odissi dance. The theme this year was the traditional art of ‘Gotipua dance’. Utsav also organizes an annual seminar on Odissi music where artists and musicians from Orissa are invited to participate.
The repertory artists of Utsav have made an impactful presence at prestigious festivals held in India and abroad for its high standards of excellence in performance, which has been highly appreciated at Festivals of India in Korea, France, Egypt and many other countries and contributed in the promotion and propagation of the richness of our classical dance traditions.
Regular classes are held at ‘Utsav’ to impart quality training in dance and music, particularly Odissi, to children and hone the skills of upcoming artists. The organization has an easily accessible library of very informative books for its students. From time-to-time it also conducts seminars and lec-dems on subjects relating to dance and music. The focus remains both on theory and practical. Other than imparting training, ‘Utsav’ has produced many dance ballets based on the themes of mythology, women’s empowerment and environment.
‘Utsav’ involves itself actively thorough Odissi dance presentations by Smt. Ranjana Gauhar and her repertory in rural and semi-rural areas for the youth.
‘Utsav’ has also held a series of performances titled Odissi dance--The Journey from Temple to Theatre depicting the journey of the art form, which is a living tradition. There are many more activities being planned for forthcoming events.
From the desk of Utsav’s Founder-President
In our country classical dance is not just a set of appealing movements, but behind it lies a deep-rooted and vast realm of philosophy that has nurtured and sustained the ancient dance traditions.
In Indian culture, dance is placed at par with spirituality. It is our constant endeavour to ignite in the young students the awareness of their inherent qualities and inner strength. The power of self-confidence and a strong character emanates because of many years of dedication to art. It helps them to sharpen the faculties of thought, speech, expression, music and rhythm all of which ensure a holistic development.
Utsav believes in the spirit of Guru-shishya Parampara where reinforcement of discipline, fundamental character -building and capacity to create a vision in the minds of the disciples is constantly been nurtured and imparted.
It is our objective that the disciples are not only trained in honing their skills in dance but are enriched as individuals, by instilling in them the values of aesthetics and ethics which together form an incredible personality full of grace.
At Utsav it is our constant endeavour to create an ambience where even the tough rigors for learning classical dance are made to look attractive and simple.
In the past 26 years we have initiated many students to Odissi and still more have graced prestigious cultural platforms in the country and abroad. The achievements not only rest here, instead the students of Utsav have made a mark and standout in academics and other creative activities as much as in Odissi.
At Utsav every child is special to us.
The success story for Utsav is that we let children blossom in an environment of love, guidance and training. I thank the supportive parents and dedicated faculty of Utsav for building a vibrant environment.
We have every reason to celebrate at UTSAV.
About the founder President of UTSAV - Smt. Ranjana Gauhar :
The world of Indian classical dance is incomplete without the name of Ranjana Gauhar, the world-renowned Odissi dancer and a multidimensional personality whose interests also include theatre, painting and choreography. Ranjana Gauhar has been honoured with the prestigious Padmashree Award in 2003 for her longstanding services in the field of Odissi Dance. She is also the recipient of the National Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (2007), Senior Fellowship for her research in the temple tradition of Odissi dance by the Ministry of Culture, Government of India, the Indira Gandhi Priyadarshini Award and Mahari Award in 2007 and many other accolades.
Amongst the foremost exponents in Odissi, Ranjana Gauhar’s performances bear the signature of a distinctive style because of her extensive training in Chhau, Kathak and Manipuri as well. It has widened her knowledge and understanding of Indian classical dance. This background has led her to innovatively explore and reach out to other creative expressions such as authoring a book “Odissi, The Dance Divine”, which was released on 13 February, 2007. The book not only delves into the evolution and aesthetics of Odissi dance but also introduces to the readers the architect and contemporary gurus and eminent dancers of this living tradition-Odissi.
Ranjana Gauhar, who has trained under the legendary Guru Mayadhar Rout and Ms. Aloka Paniker, is a graduate in Philosophy Honours and has a master’s degree in English Literature.
Ranjana Gauhar’s education and creative skills have helped to blend the traditional with the contemporary and her imagery, which is both innovative and individualistic, have made her all the more appealing to the audience at home and abroad.
Gaiety, grace and strength are the hall-mark of Ranjana Gauhar’s performances, compelling the spell-bound audiences to describe her recital as an experience of sublime spiritual odyssey. She has also produced and directed a number of ballets depicting modern and mythological themes.
Ranjana Gauhar has travelled with her art of Odissi dance across the length and breadth of the country and globally for solo and group recitals in various festivals all over the world.
For the innovativeness and beauty of her presentations, Ranjana Gauhar’s choreographic productions were chosen to inaugurate the ‘Festival of India’ in South Korea in July, 2011 followed by performances in Japan, China, Singapore and Philippines. Ranjana Gauhar’s Dance Company has travelled to ‘Festivals of India’ in France, Egypt and Serbia. Recently, the Nehru Centre in London invited her dance company for performance tour of Tagore’s literary work ‘Chitrangada’.
Ranjana Gauhar has participated in several prestigious dance festivals in India and abroad. She performed in UK at the Queen Elizabeth Royal Festival Hall. She has mesmerized the audience by her lyrical and charming performances in several countries such as Italy, France, Greece, Serbia, Cyprus, Kuwait, Switzerland, Tunisia, Yugoslavia, Japan, Holland, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Croatia and Latin American Countries like Colombia, Ecuador, Panama and Mexico. In Mexico, Ranjana Gauhar represented India at the Cerventino Festival. She has also exposed the beauty of Odissi dance to audiences in Cambodia, Bhutan, Vietnam and Sri Lanka, the continent of Africa, Mauritius and Egypt.
Another facet to Ranjana Gauhar’s persona is her talent as a film producer, researcher and scriptwriter. She has produced many television serials and documentaries that have been very successful and highly appreciated. They are “Odissi Chandrika”, “Saundarya Lahari” based on “Shri Geet Govind”, “Nectar in Stone”, a film depicting the cultural relations of India with Vietnam and Cambodia through ancient Hindu Temples, “The Celestial Dancer in the Temple of Jagannath” for the Ford Foundation, “Manas Mandir” and many others were produced by Ranjana Gauhar Films for Indian television. Her independent productions are “Nupur” and “Prerna” for IGNOU.
She is also actively involved in creating awareness for the youth through presenting lec-dems in the interiors of India. Ranjana Gauhar is the moving spirit behind ‘Utsav’ started by her in 1987 where she uses her experience and commitment for the teaching of Odissi dance and music in the Guru Shishya Parampara.
A dancer par excellence and a perfectionist to the core, Ranjana Gauhar is not the one to rest on her laurels. Instead, she is tirelessly working towards achieving the high standards set by her.
She believes that the best is yet to come.
Utsav has a repertory of very efficient and talented dancers. Recently, the repertory has performed in four international festivals of India such as France, Egypt, Serbia and inaugurated the Festival of India in Korea followed by performances in Japan, China, Singapore and Phillipines. On the 150th birth centenary celebrations of Gurudev Randinranath Tagore, the Nehru Centre organized programmes in UK, where the repertory gave several performances in different cities of the country.
The repertory has also given commendable performances in major festivals of India such as Konark, Nishagandhi, Raigarh, Kochi, NCPA-Mumbai, Uday Shanker Choreography Festival in Jaipur, Pracheen Kala Kendra in Chandigarh, Bengaluru International Arts Festival and others.Photos’ of festivals & production
Gestures of Gratitude
Keya joined the Utsav family at the age of five. She had started moving her tiny little being to the rhythmic beats as soon as she could manage to sit. She had some talent in her, we felt as all parents do, but it was her zeal to learn that led her to her amazing Guru, Guru Ranjana Gauhar. The biggest apprehension about putting a small child to formal classical dance training is repetitive instructions, which sometimes may make them lose interest.
Utsav is a wonderful place where teachers appreciate each child individually and at the same time inculcate in them the quality to bring harmony and beauty to a group. I now find my little one dancing all the time, everywhere- improvising her moves, enjoying and experimenting with the music. She is a happy fulfilled child who aspires to become Guru Keya one day.
I thank Utsav for making every day of my child’s life a celebration.
Mother of Keya K Badugu
It is only recently that our children have been associated with Utsav. It is a delightful experience to see them perform different Odissi steps and mudras. Most importantly, it is great to see the way these little girls are learning to respect their Gurus by always touching their feet.
Thank you teachers for all the efforts you have put in the children and really look forward to their stage performance.
Ridhi Jain (Mother of Khushi Jain), Unnati Jain (Mother of Suhani Jain)
Our wonderful and personal association with ‘Utsav’ and Mrs Ranjana Gauhar, has been like one’s own family. Our daughters, Aneesha and Ayesha simply love their association with ‘Utsav’, which has assisted them in numerous ways to become more focused in their studies and all other activities and which has also groomed them into wonderful dancers.
Both, Aneesha and Ayesha, always look forward to attend each and every class of ‘Utsav’ and, there, time flies for them.
We cherish this beautiful relationship and are extremely fortunate and blessed to be part of the ‘Utsav Family’.
Aneesha & Ayesha’s mother