A performer and teacher, Aadya Kaktikar has more than two decades of performance and teaching experience in the Odissi Dance form. Her book Odissi Yaatra—The journey of Guru Mayadhar Raut, captures the culturally vibrant years of the 40s, 50s and 70s in the field of Odissi dance. Illustrated with rare photographs, the book documents the people and processes involved in the classicisation of Odissi dance post India’s Independence. Working at the cusp of education and performance her practice, research and teaching focuses on expanding the vocabulary of traditional Indian dance forms both in pedagogy and practice.
Traditional Indian dances with highly codified performance techniques are often understood as immutable within a world where fluidity and flux constantly challenge our notions of stable identities and unchanging traditions. Why is it then that in spite of the severely disciplining nature of dance training, dancers do not simply repeat what they are conditioned to do? If agency is dependent upon social structures and power matrices, why does innovation, deviation, resistance and confrontation occur changing scripts and evolving new meanings of what is danced within tradition? This paper accesses traditional Indian dance pedagogies through the kinetic sensorium, highlighting the bodily experience that the traditional dance forms provide. My own training in Odissi, challenges the notion of creativity as a product. It leads to an understanding of creativity and the role that discipline plays in its expression which is culture specific, yet may find universal applicability.