Guru Jyoti Rout is the founder director of Jyoti Kala Mandir, College of Indian Classical Arts. She is actively engaged in spreading awareness and appreciation of this ancient art form around the globe.
Guru Jyoti Rout's interest in dance was kindled during childhood, when she witnessed a tribal dance by firelight in a remote mountain village. Years later she enrolled for lessons in Odissi dance at the Utkal Sangeet Mahavidylay, the Odisha University for Music and Dance, where she earned a Master's degree. She then went on to study vocal music, and Chau Dance (Mayurbanj Style).
eley California, one of the largest Odissi schools in the West. She has also established centers in Fremont, San Jose, and Bhubaneshwar.
Guru Jyoti Rout is a truly gifted performer. To witness her dance is to see the ancient temple sculptures come to life. She is most appreciated for her Abhinaya (expression) and crisp footwork. She alternates between rage, love, fear and amusement with ease, moving you to empathize with each character. Even within each emotion she conveys the subtle nuances, those imperceptible shifts in feeling - with clarity and genuineness.
Guru Jyoti Rout is a magnificent choreographer. She has choreographed over 60 original items in the classical Odissi tradition. Jyoti Rout was one of the dancers who has great opportunity to dance in front of Lord Jagannath in Puri.
She is the recipient of an award from World Arts West for her outstanding choreography of Dasavatara at the prestigious Ethnic Dance Festival at San Francisco in 2006. She has been honored by several National and International awards from around the globe, including Pride of India National Award, Shrishetra Mahari Award from Jagannath Puri, Shrestha Odiani, the Life Time Achievement Award from Kharabela Youth Club, Kalashree Award from OSA, USA, Nirtya Siramani from Olympiad Cuttack Odisha, Odishi Ratna From Bhubaneshwar, Nrutya Sudha from Swarasudha Sangeet Sadhana, Odisha, Living Legend Award from Orissadiary.com, and in 2017 the Prestigious Mahari Award from Guru Pankaj Charan Research Foundation
Guru Jyoti Rout is much more than a skilled dancer. As Brenda Payton of the Oakland Tribune Newspaper rightly observed "Jyoti Rout has no interest in simply making beautiful dances, even though by all accounts her performances are stunningly beautiful. She's after something more profound. As a dancer, choreographer, and teacher of Odissi dance...she is trying to channel and communicate the essence of spirituality."
Shyamahari Chakra of the Hindu Newspaper described her as the "Ambassador of Odissi Dance".
Guru Jyoti Rout is an inspired teacher. She has shaped her students into well accomplished dancers, several of whom have chosen to move across the country to study with her. She has trained a number of students for their Ranga Puja (solo debut), many of whom have become successful soloists and Odissi dance teachers. It is fascinating to watch her transform her students, many from a western ethos, into dancers having the consciousness, sensibility and body language of an Odissi dancer. She teaches Odissi as a spiritual practice, emphasizing relaxation, mindfulness and focus while engaging in rigorous physical practice.
In her words, "Just as the carvings of the ancient temples of Odisha hold a divine geometry in their form, so too Odissi Dance has encoded in its grammatical structure a practical pathway to open to the spiritual essence. The lines of Odissi, the depth of expression and the awareness practices open the dancer to an experience larger than his or her small self. Odissi at its best is a kind of darshan, a flow of blessings, for both the audience and the dancer." For Jyoti Rout, both teaching and performing dance is a matter of devotion to Lord Jagannath. It is His spirit that inspires and illumines this radiant dancer.
Guru Jyoti Rout’s mission is "to teach and share the beauty of this dance with devotion and pure love". Hence the focus of the school is on not merely the technique but overall philosophy of the Indian classical arts. The ancient systems of dance and music codified in the sacred texts of India state clearly that these practices are meant as a means of growth for the individual toward union with God. Classical dance and music were originally performed before the deity in the temple as an offering. For the student who commits to the practice, it is a commitment to the internal transformations, as well as to the rigorous physical training. The training addresses both of these aspects of Odissi.