Hydrabad Hans (August 23, 2013) - I Was Born to Server Dance by Askari Jaffer
March 2014 - Indian Classican Dance as a Spiritual Expression by Ananda Kali
Post Noon (August 25, 2013) - Seeking the Dancer Within by Jyotsna Nambiar
Oriya Article, Attyeb, February 18, 2014
Newsletter by Gina, Taos New Mexico, March 2014
I have a confession, Beloved Reader. I want you to know that my heart has been broken. Recently. The truth is, I have fallen in love. There is nothing in the world to break one's heart faster than love. Because when it happens you realize the entire course of your life has irreversibly changed and there is nothing you can do about it. You could insist on clinging to the brittle shells of your former reality and manage to avoid being deeply moved but then you would be living some sort of half-life. For, make no mistake. Love will move you to the soaring pinnacles and dismal troughs of human experience and through all the in-between spaces too.
Guru Jyoti Rout is a master of East Indian Classical Odissi dance, an art that is accompanied by extensive costume and makeup, bells around the ankles, stomping foot movements, and exaggerated facial expressions. Her specialty is the emotional expression behind the movements. Watching her face run with tears as she dances a sorrowful dance or feeling the room fill with utter beauty as she dances a peaceful dance is stunningly beautiful.
I had the privilege of studying with Jyoti Rout in New Mexico over the last weekend. I don't wish to be a Classical Odissi dancer. I was studying to deepen my ability to express my emotions as a public speaker. In response to a question she was asked by another of the workshop participants, she said, “To truly master the ability to transmit emotions on stage takes incredible devotion. You must love it. You must be 100% committed to get a 100% result.”
The more I heard her talk, the more I realized, “I have to find out what she knows. I have to be with her.” Suddenly I saw a whole lot of my time and resources being 100% committed to getting a plane ticket to California so I could study with her. Love is inconvenient. I was busy doing other things but the more I looked at her round, sunny little face beaming out at me the more in love I became. My future plans were suddenly being organized around her existence in a completely irrational fashion.
When I heard that Jyoti was giving a performance after the workshop that evening, my plans to leave New Mexico and head back to Denver were suddenly derailed. There was no way I was going to miss Jyoti’s dance. The only problem with this was that my parents and my sister's family were planning to stay the night near Denver so they could have dinner with me en route to St. Louis, where they would be driving with a Uhaul, my sister, my brother in law, and my only nephew. She was moving across the country and it was my last chance to see her for who knows how long. Torn between spending time with my family and with pursuing the delicious invitation of my new horizons, my heart shattered into several jagged little pieces, trampled under the proud stomp of Jyoti Rout's painted feet, the rhythmic chant of her bells laughing through the hypnotic music.
Every time you truly say “yes” to one possibility you must say “no” to countless other possibilities. We look with dissatisfaction at our lives, we long for change, yet when it comes we grieve because, in some secret and very human way, we also want everything to stay the same. Getting what you ask for is a miracle. It’s also heartbreaking when you realize everything you have to give up to receive it.
I woke at 6 a.m. after several days in a row of rigorous training combined with very little sleep and drove the abandoned backcountry highways from northern New Mexico to Denver. Dusty and stiff I straggled in, straight from the road, to meet with a student of mine in a Denver cafe. Of course, what was burning most in his heart was the very thing I had been studying for the last four days. He wanted to know how to move people when he performed. “Your audience feels what you feel,” I told him. “If you aren't willing to feel it, they won't feel it either.” My heart raw from being stretched in every conceivable way for several days on end, I gazed at my student with great tenderness. I was completely willing to allow myself to be moved in that moment by his innocent hunger. To feel the connection between us zinging with all the sweetness and all the ache of life and to know the painful truth: that only through heartbreak would he find what he sought.
If we are working to free our expression we struggle with the willingness to be vulnerable. To commit 100%. To be fully engaged in the dance of life and to feel everything there is to feel, whether pleasurable or painful. For how else can we move others but to be willing to be completely moved ourselves? Jyoti Rout believes that the most important part of dance is surrender. To be so soft that the divine dances through her. When love comes, whether it is for a teacher, a student, a vision, a business, a lover, a friend, or in any other way, it shatters your expectations, rips you from your moorings, and thrusts you into naked vulnerability. When it comes for you, will you hold fast to your comforting tragedy or, Beloved, will you dance?
"Jyoti Rout has no interest in simply making beautiful dances, even though by all accounts, her performances are stunningly beautiful." Payton,Brenda. The Oakland Tribune 1 April 2005
"She’s after something more profound. As a dancer, choreographer and teacher of Odissi dance, a classical Indian dance form, she is trying to channel and communicate the essence of spirituality." Payton,Brenda. The Oakland Tribune 1 April 2005
"If the ideas are weighty, Rout communicates them with an alluring airiness. Not only do they make sense, they seem absolutely achievable. She possesses a clarity that is almost startling." Payton,Brenda. The Oakland Tribune 1 April 2005
"Rout displays an impressive range of emotions. Although the audience is unable to understand the mudras or the story being told by the singer, Rout’s facial expressions gave meaning and emotional relevance to the dances. The audience may not understand the mudras, but they can understand the emotions motivating it." Salazar-Rubio, Sofia. The Daily Californian 14 April 2005
"With bodies intertwined and arranged to create human filigree, the group poses were carefully crafted works of art; the radiance of the costumes and poised grace of the dancers were a gourmet feast for the eyes." Salazar-Rubio, Sofia. The Daily Californian 14 April 2005
"Rout is known for the range of her dance as well as the depth of her expressions. Captivating the audience with her style, she captures the subtlest of emotions with relative ease." Ravinder, Archana. India Post 19 September 2003
"The bonding is evident. While teaching, she stops to help a student adjust her dupatta, a scarf-like cloth worn by Indian women, and jokes with the students after class." Shah, Rima. Bay Area Living 14 July 2003
"Rout teaches her students to examine what they are feeling and to use that in their dancing." Shah, Rima. Bay Area Living 14 July 2003
"It’s obvious that Rout instills a respect for that (Odissi) tradition in her dancers but she also gives them room to express themselves." Nishioka, Joyce. Asian Week 3 April 2003
"If you see her dancing Odissi, you’d swear she is the goddess for whom the dance is supposed to be performed." Dixit, Meg. India West 3 March 1995
"The body is an instrument for dance, but dance is beyond the body." Bay Area Living 14 July 2003
"Dances are more spiritual than religious. However the dancer’s mind, body, and surroundings have to be clean, and one must adhere to a certain formality and etiquette." Bay Area Living 14 July 2003
"If a student says she just wants to make pretty movements and complex rhythms, I tell her it’s a waste of her time and my time. I’m not interested in that." Oakland Tribune 1 April 2005
"While some forms of Western dance require dancers to be of a certain age and body type, in Indian dance, the maturity and emotional depth that come with age make the dancers perform better. An 80-year old can dance a lot better than a 20-year old." Bay Area Living 14 July 2003
"Along with discipline, dancers must simplify their lives. Indian dance, because it is so spiritual, teaches one to be strong and to shed what is unimportant in life." Bay Area Living 14 July 2003
"The dance itself is a spiritual practice. You have to be in touch with your feelings, your mind, body and soul at once. You have to be balanced." Oakland Tribune 1 April 2005
"At Jyoti Kala Mandir, the students are exposed to an opportunity to connect with their inner self and spirituality, thereby gaining self-confidence and the ability to mingle and interact with each other easily. The emphasis is on human life and its quality." India Post 19 September 2003
"Odissi starts on the inside. It travels through (the) medium of the body and mind, but then it goes beyond. It is directly connected to spirituality." The Garden Island 24 September 2003
"All of the universe is not big enough to hold all the love in my heart. I want everyone to be able to connect to this love and express themselves as individual artists, not a bunch of puppets doing my choreography and dancing in my style. I want them to be in touch with spirit so they can share it." The Garden Island 24 September 2003
"Many people say that they really see they really see spirit. That’s what really touches their hearts. Anytime someone performs who’s connected to spirit, all of the audience feels it. Even if they’re in the last corner seat in the last row, they feel like I am hugging them personally." The Garden Island 24 September 2003
"For myself, to obtain salvation (Mokshya) would be to come to earth as a dancer again and again to bring the message of peace through dance and other virtuous actions." The Taos News May 1998
"I try to tell my students to enjoy what they are doing. This is just a path. Think of where the path is taking you and go for as long as you can." India West March 1995
"You have to surrender yourself to the dance itself. The energy is not really in the movements, but it’s inside you and what comes out is the force behind the success of each performance." India West March 1995
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