Sattriya

More than 500 years ago, social and religious reformer Mohapurux Srimonto Sankardev created Sattriya to propagate his preachings of a monotheistic religion, an equal and class-free society. Initially, the dance was an integral part of one-act operatic plays called Ankiya Nat, whose text, dance and music were also conceived and written by Sankardev.With time, Sattriya came on its own and established an identity independent of the plays.

Until the mid-20th Century, Sattriya was confined to and evolved within the monasteries called satras,institutions created by Sankardev's disciples and built mostly in Majuli, the largest riverine island in the world. For over 500 years, the monasteries protected this sacred dance drama from outside influences. The dance derives its name from the satras where it continues to be performed as part of the religious practice by monks or devotees called bhokots.

In the middle of the 20th century Sattriya emerged from within the confines of the satras, and lay people, especially female dancers, began to embrace the beauty of the dance form and its philosophy. On November 15, 2000, Sattriya dance was declared a classical dance by the Sangeet Natak Akademi, the official governmental institution which oversees the classical and other art forms of India. A unique aspect of Sattriya dance is that it is a "living" art form which has not been "revived", but has continued since its creation to be performed in satras for liturgical and communal purposes.

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Madhusmita Bora, Artistic Director

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Madhusmita Bora is an Assamese American dancer, teacher, writer, filmmaker and cultural producer. She grew up to the rhythms of Sattriya practiced routinely in her village prayer hall in Assam. She made her debut as a performer before she turned four, dancing at her village temple for the annual raax festival, dedicated to Lord Krishna. She curated and produced the first U.S. tour of The Dancing Monks of Majuli. She is the director and producer of Dancing the Divine, a documentary on Sattriya. Madhusmita has trained under Padmashree Jatin Goswami , Guru Ramkrishna Talukdar , Guru Naren Barua , Anita Sharma , Adhyapak Dr. Bhabananda Barbayan and Gobinda Kalita from the Uttar Kamalabari Satra . Her collaborative works include, When the river meets the sea with Annielille Gavino, Sattriya-Tap with Robert Burden Jr., and The Art Profound with Reggie Tapman Meyers. Performances include The Library of Congress and Indian Embassy in Washington DC; Symphony Space, Library of Performing Arts at Lincoln Center,14th Street Y, New York University in New York City; Nehru Centre London; Gurudev Tagore Indian Cultural Centre in Mexico City; India Habitat Centre New Delhi, Kalaghoda Festival, Mumbai.

Awards

  • Art & Change Grant from Leeway Foundation, 2009, 2010 and 2011
  • Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Grant, 2013, 2016
  • Nritya Saradi Award, 2014
  • IIDF Award, 2016
  • The Pew Center for the Arts and Heritage Grant, 2016
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Prerona Bhuyan, Artistic Director

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Prerona Bhuyan was introduced into the world of dance by her mother. She has studied Sattriya under the guidance of Padmashree Jatin Goswami, Guru Naren Barua, Anita Sharma, Dr. Bhabananda Barbayan, Gobin Kalita Bayan and Guru Ramkrishna Talukdar. Prerona has also received training in Bharatanatyam from Padmashree Sangeet Natak Akademi awardee Guru Indira P.P. Borah. She has also studied contemporary movements with Santosh Nair, Jazz at Danceworx and yoga with Navtej Johar’s Studio Abhyas.

Prerona is an empaneled artist with the Ministry of Culture, Government of India. Prerona is also a producer with Folk Beats, a music production company dedicated to promoting and preserving Assamese folk music. She has worked on a documentary film “Borgeet- Eti Dhrupad Sampad” by National Award winning film critique, Utpal Dutta, based on borgeets written by Srimonto Sankardev and Madhavdev. Prerona has presented Sattriya all across India and abroad in the USA, UK, Mexico and Singapore. She divides her time between the USA and India for the cause of promoting Sattriya.

Awards

  • National Nritya Shiromani Award, 2015
  • Nritya Jyoti Puraskar, 2015
  • Nritya Pratibha Puraskar, 2016
  • IIDF Award, 2016