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Jaya Mehta
performs Odissi
Dance
Odissi danseuse Jaya Mehta
Jaya Mehta is an Odissi dancer with a rich background in Indian art and History. She has a BFA in Painting from College of Arts, New Delhi; a capsule course on Indian art from the National Museum of India, and an MA in ancient Indian history from Jawaharlal Nehru University.

A dancer with a difference, Jaya Mehta, beautifully connects the entire spectrum of Indian arts, by creating a rich fabric of recitals, demonstrations, workshops and written articles on Indian dance and culture for the lovers of Indian culture worldwide.

A disciple of Guru Pratibha Jena Singh, she has imbibed the Odissi tradition of Guru Surendra Nath Jena. She teaches Odissi at her dance school 'Odissi Kalaa Ashram' in New Delhi.

Jaya Mehta's solo Odissi recitals have enraptured audiences at prestigious international venues. She has been invited recently to perform at the KORZO Indian classical dance festival 2017 in Hague. She has also danced Odissi at the Nehru Centre in London, the Gandhi Centre in Hague, the Fayant Theatre in Hague, The Theatre de Bakkerij in Rotterdam, the Centre Mandapa in Paris, the ARMA museum in Bali, the Indian Culture Centre in Istanbul and the International Odissi Festivals in Bhubhaneshwar and New Delhi. She was felicitated with the 'Odissi Jyoti' award at the International Odissi Festival in Bhbhaneshwar, Odisha.

Dance Education is Jaya Mehta's primary concern. She has created pioneering, inter-disciplinary workshops world over for adults and children on Indian art and culture: The KalaYogi workshops for adults (connecting dance, sculpture, nature, emotions and yoga), the 'Mum, ME and Odissi' workshops (for child and parent) and the 'Discover INDIA' series (about Indian festivals and seasons/Ritus).

Jaya Mehta is the author of the only book of fiction for children about Indian classical dance titled, 'Indian book of Dance Stories', currently under publication with the National Book Trust of India.

Jaya Mehta writes her own poetry, that is deeply inspired by Odissi dance and Indian culture. Some of these poems like the 'Sakhi' and 'Sculpturesque' have been presented as dance productions on the international stage.
Jaya Mehta's dance journey in her own words:
"Odissi felt to me not just an aesthetics of the sculpturesque, but a much deeper commitment to the higher consciousness within. Artistes with their art, seek to understand the higher energies and mysteries of the universe. Today while dancing I revel in the 'satsang' that Odissi is. It is like Odissi takes my hand and leads me into a deeper journey into the cosmos, where our ancient rishis and sages meditated, for an eternally fragrant glimpse of the divine. As a performer, I feel deeply motivated to a process of linking many more individuals to the divinity of Odissi as an aesthetic and deeply transformative experience.
In this journey, I began to look for new ways of looking at Indian Art. Through the dances of the Guru Surendra Nath Jena tradition, I realised that the Indian visual and performing arts come together like one beautiful painting. This resulted in discoveries like the 'Mum, ME and Odissi' workshop, 'Dance Travels' series of performances and many multi-disciplinary events connecting dance to trees, sculptures, nourishment, travel, the Hindi alphabet, etc. As the journey continues, traversing forever between the ancient and modern, the cultural and the universal, I take Lord Jagannath's blessings and continue with this dance odyssey of discovery."
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Jaya Mehta's education, performance, workshop and research experience:

EDUCATION:

  • Masters in Ancient History from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.
  • Bachelors in Fine Arts (Painting) from College of Art, New Delhi.
  • ‘Appreciation of Indian Art and Culture’ capsule course from National Museum, New Delhi.

TRAINING AND AWARDS:

  • Trained in the Odissi dance style of Guru Surendra Nath Jena from Guru Pratibha Jena Singh at the Triveni Kala Sangam, New Delhi.
  • Received training in the Odissi dance percussion instrument ‘Mardala’ from Guru Prafulla Kumar Mangaraj.
  • Was awarded the ‘ODISSI JYOTI’ title at the Naveen Kalaakar festival at Bhubhaneshwar (2008).

PERFORMANCES:

  • Presented a duet Odissi recital, 'Odissi Yatra' with Swaati Chattopadhyay at The Nehru Centre in London (2017)
  • Presented a solo Odissi recital at The Gandhi Centre in Hague, Netherlands (2016)
  • Presented a solo Odissi dance recital titled, ‘Odissi Yatra’, in the tradition of Guru Surendra Nath Jena at the Centre Mandapa in Paris, France (2015).
  • Presented 'India Yatra', a duet Odissi recital at the Fayant Theatre in Hague, and the Theatre de Bakkerij at Rotterdam, with Dutch dancer Anima Jhagroe-Ruissen. (2017)
  • Presented 'Konark Kala Sangam', an illustrated performance of poetry and Odissi dance with Swaati Chattopadhyay, (about the depiction of the Konark temple in dance and literature) at the Manushi Seminar in the World Book Fair, New Delhi. (2017)
  • Presented a solo Odissi dance recital titled, ‘Odissi Rasa’ in the tradition of Guru Surendra Nath Jena at Agung Rai Museum of Art (ARMA),Ubud, Bali (2014).
  • Presented a solo Odissi recital titled, ‘Krishna Calling’ at the India Cultural Centre, Istanbul, Turkey (2013).
  • Performed an Odissi recital titled, ‘Nritya Darpan’ with Odissi dancer Swaati Vivek at the India International Centre, New Delhi (2015).
  • Presented Odissi at the ‘Shilp Yatra 2015'- an Odissi recital in the tradition of Guru Surendra Nath Jena at the India International Centre, New Delhi.
  • Presented ‘Dance Travels- into the heart of love and devotion’, a special Odissi event at Atelier, costume designer Sandhya Raman’s studio in New Delhi (2014).
  • Presented Odissi at the 'Nritya Dhara 2014'- an Odissi recital by three generations of students of Guru Surendra Nath Jena at the Triveni Kala Sangam, New Delhi.
  • Performed the ‘Hanuman Chalisa’ at the Hanuman Jayanti celebrations at the temple on Anjanadri hill, Hampi(2013).
  • Presented Odissi at the Vedic Swar Concert 2013 at the India International Centre, New Delhi.
  • Presented an Odissi recital with Swaati Vivek at ‘Vasant Utsav’ the annual cultural festival at Bharati College, New Delhi (2012).
  • Presented a special Dance Travels event, ‘Trees in Indian classical dance’,at the Zorba the Buddha, New Delhi (2012).
  • Presented a special Dance Travels event, ‘Decoding Abhinaya’,at the Attic, New Delhi (2012).
  • Presented a special Dance Travels event, illustrating Indian classical dance for the NGO Manzil, New Delhi (2012).
  • Presented a special Dance Travels event at the Kunzum Travel Café, New Delhi, illustrating classical dance as window into the culture of a place (2012).
  • Performed at the Jagannath Rath Yatra 2012, at the Sri Jagannath Mandir, New Delhi.
  • Performed solo at the International Odissi Dance Festival 2011, held at Bhubhaneshwar, Orissa.
  • Presented ‘Divyanjali’, an Odissi dance recital with Swaati Vivek at the India International Centre, New Delhi (2011).
  • Performed Odissi at the International Odissi dance festival, Bhubhaneshwar (2010).
  • Performed ‘Shraddhanjali’ – a tribute to late Guru Surendra Nath Jena at Triveni Kala Sangam, New Delhi (2007).
  • Performed at Sangeet Natak Akademi’s cultural programme, highlighting the work of its annual awardee for 2007:Guru Surendra Nath Jena. (Meghdoot Theatre, 2007)
  • Performed in group choreography on ‘Ramayan’ , composed by Guru Surendra Nath Jena, at ‘Nrityaradhana’( Triveni Chamber Theatre, 2007)
  • Performed Odissi recital titled ‘Bhakti Sandhya’ ,an evening of compositions on bhakti, at Triveni chamber theatre, new delhi (2005).
  • Performed a Trigalbandi with Bharatnatyam and Kathak dancers in a programme in aid of Tsunami victims in New Delhi (2005).
  • Performed in a Trigalbandi with Bharatnatyam and Kathak dancers at JNU Founders Day Programme (2004).
  • Odissi recital titled ‘Nrityopasana’ at triveni chamber theatre, New Delhi (2004).
  • Odissi recital titled ‘Odissi Sandhya’, an evening of Guru Surendra Nath Jena’s dance compositions at Triveni chamber theatre, New Delhi –(2003).
  • Odissi recital at the Convocation ceremony of the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi (2003).
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LECTURE DEMONSTRATIONS AND WORKSHOPS:

  • Conducted the 'KalaYogi workshops' for adults (connecting odissi dance, sculpture, nature, emotions and yoga) at the Saktisha studio, Hague university square, Netherlands (2017)
  • Conducted an 'Odissi Intensive' workshop for the students of the Ashakiran school of Dance in Rotterdam, Netherlands (2017)
  • Conducted a children's workshop on 'Connecting with Nature through Indian classical dance' at the Environment Week in Delhi Public School, Vasant Kun, New Delhi (2017)
  • Conducted ‘Ka se Krishna’, a unique Odissi workshop for children, connecting the Hindi alphabet with Indian art and classical dance. Mogly’s Gurukul, New Delhi.
  • Conducted ‘Sun God and Konark’, a multi-disciplinary workshop about the visualization of the Sun in Indian mythology and temple architecture through visuals, story, dance and craft for young ones under the Kalatalkies arts initiative.
  • Conducted a special Odissi dance workshop ‘Dance Travels in Barcelona’, at the Kundalini Yoga Studio in Barcelona, Spain,2012.
  • Conceptualized a new series of Odissi workshops for mothers and children titled, ‘Mum, ME and Odissi’in New Delhi. These introduce the aesthetics of Odissi and are conducted through the year in the city.
  • Conceptualized, ‘Nourishing our Inner Selves’, another new workshop to introduce classical dance to adults which have been conducted in July and August 2012 in New Delhi.
  • Conducted a classical dance workshop for students of Vasant Valley school at the the Moonbeam meditation centre, New Delhi,(2012).
  • Conducted a special Dance Travels event, ‘Keertan with Krishna’, for pre schoolers in New Delhi,(2012).
  • Conducted lecture – demonstration on the Odissi dance style of Guru Surendra Nath Jena at the Centre for Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi (2003).
  • Conducted lecture – demonstration on Odissi dance grammar, performance and evolution at the Centre for Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi (2003).
  • Conducted lecture – demonstration on classical dance on World Dance Day, for children with special needs at Navjyoti school(2005).
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TEACHING EXPERIENCE:

  • Taught dance to children with special needs at Very Special Arts, vasant kunj, New Delhi (2005).
  • Created a new methodology for teaching Odissi, which is implemented in the Odissi workshop ‘Mum, ME and Odissi’, conducted in New Delhi.
  • Conceptualized a new series of Odissi workshops for mothers and children titled, ‘Mum, ME and Odissi’in New Delhi. These introduce the aesthetics of Odissi and are conducted through the year in the city.
  • 2012 to present: teaching the Odissi style of Guru Surendra Nath Jena to select students at her dance school ‘Odissi Kalaa Ashram’ in New Delhi.
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RESEARCH EXPERIENCE:

  • Research articles written for ‘Pulse’, UK’s leading magazine on south asian dance:
    • Presented a solo Odissi dance recital titled, ‘Odissi Rasa’ in the tradition of Guru Surendra Nath Jena at Agung Rai Museum of Art (ARMA),Ubud, Bali (2014).
    • ‘Many Coloured Strands’, cover feature for Pulse summer ‘2005.
    • ‘..about dancers finding a place in history’, Pulse autumn ‘2005.
  • Published research paper : Titled, ‘Unravelling the Picturesque : Understanding the creation of a past’, for the volume, ‘Archaeology as History in Early South Asia’, published as ICHR monograph Series, New Delhi, 2004(ed. H.P Ray and C.M Sinopoli)
  • The research paper, ‘Ellora: Understanding the creation of a past’, is published in the Delhi university history reader titled, ‘Cultural History of Early South Asia’, ed. by Shonaleeka Kaul.
  • Articles on Indian art, dance and culture published in the national newspapers, Hindustan Times, Times of India and the Pioneer:
    • ‘Satsang in Motion’ – The Speaking Tree supplement, Times of India, 2012.
    • ‘Hanuman Jayanti’ – Speaking Tree, Times of India, 2013.
    • 'Why God chose to be a Cosmic Dancer’, Times of India, 2005.
    • ‘A Passage to India’, Hindustan Times, 2000.
    • ‘Siva as an Icon’, Pioneer, 1999.
    • ‘A journey into the Past’, Pioneer, 1999.
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