Orissi Dance and Music of India

Spring 2014 quarter

Taught by

music composition
literature, dance, performance, cultural studies

We will focus on the dance and music culture of central eastern India, specifically the art-rich state of Orissa. While some music or dance background would be useful, it is not necessary. This is a culture and history offering, along with some practical hands-on experience in dance and music. We will immerse ourselves in both the history and sources of this ancient culture of dance and music, and its active contemporary scene. Our readings will include cutting-edge articles and book chapters exploring themes such as gender, colonial history and post-colonial theory and the economic ferment that is transforming many aspects of Indian society today. In seminars, we'll compare and contrast ancient and modern, Indian and American aesthetics, world views, values and attitudes. In workshops, we will explore the rich vocabularies of sound and movement that make Orissa's traditional performing arts so rewarding to study. The music workshop will focus on modal improvisation, performance, and composition, and study contemporary improvisational musicians influenced by South Asian aesthetics, like Vijay Iyer and John Coltrane, as well as traditionally trained musicians with multiple musical careers, such as Ravi Shankar.  The dance workshop will focus on classical Odissi dance, technique and repertoire.

The first evidence of Orissa's dance and music culture is preserved in sculptures and images that are about 2,000 years old. The culture thrived for centuries before it declined under colonial rule in the 1800s, and began to revive in the 1950s and 60s after India became an independent nation-state. This revival still continues, and we will be a part of that effort. Dancers, musicians and scholars will work together and re-create the tradition for our own times. At the end of the quarter, we will present a performance incorporating music and dance from Orissa at various levels of skill so that most students can participate.

Some previous training in dance or music would be useful, but is not expected. Students who don't wish to focus on music or dance performance can pursue a research option, in consultation with faculty.

Program Details

Fields of Study

Preparatory for studies or careers in

performing arts, cultural studies, Asian studies, South Asian studies, gender studies, post-colonial studies, music and dance.

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Day


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Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning: Access to web-based tools required, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.

Special Expenses

$50 for performance tickets and supplies.

Registration Information

Credits: 16 (Spring)

Class standing: Freshmen–Senior; 25% of the seats are reserved for freshmen

Maximum enrollment: 48


Course Reference Numbers

Fr (16 credits): 30155
So - Sr (16 credits): 30158
(1-16 credits): 30704

Go to my.evergreen.edu to register for this program.

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