Kashinath Barik

Arts Research and Documentation

Grant Period: Over one year and six months

Mayurbhanj Chhau is one of the three dance styles in east India known by the areas in which they are. In the mid-19th century, the Maharajas of Mayurbhanj took to developing the style within the precincts of the court. However, after Independence the Maharajas completely abandoned the style. The style has since suffered due to ad hoc approaches in teaching the techniques of dance, music, and design in schools and institutions. The enhancement of institutional teaching of the style has now become critical for its development.

Kashinath Barik is a local painter, lawyer, critic, and an arts facilitator. He has previously worked closely with traditional teachers to organize training schedules, and laying down formal recruiting and evaluation procedures for the students. The importance of training has to be re-established within the psyche of the artists. Lack of education, malnutrition, alcoholism, poverty, and caste-conflicts amongst practitioners are other serious problems that have to be dealt with. Moreover, the memories of surviving teachers on the training system under royal patronage have to be urgently documented and transmitted to other dancers.

Barik proposes to build upon his earlier work at Orissa Chhau Training Centre (he has preserved the literature generated during his earlier stint there). In Baripada, a group of teachers will come together to work with dancers, musicians and designers in practical sessions that will mirror a training school. In the course of teaching and learning, a research team will dissect and re-systemize the techniques of dance, music, and design. Courses will be developed according to the needs of pre-graduate level institutions (including schools), departments in universities and private schools.

Research will be undertaken to evolve course material in Oriya and guidelines for recruiting and evaluating students. Barik will draw upon his own research on the style undertaken over the years, and his skills as a painter to evolve a series of drawings and sketches as teaching aids to explain motivations for movement in each unit of the dance technique.