A group of monks from Majuli called ‘The Dancing Monks’ performed Sattriya in New York on their first tour of the US, on Sunday night.
The Dancing Monks who have earlier toured countries like France, England, China and various places within India, were joined for the performance by Philadelphia-based Sattriya Dance Company as they performed together at Symphony Space in New York.
The Sattriya Dance Company launched in 2009 by Prerona Bhuyan and Madhusmita Bora has a mission to promote Sattriya, as well as raise awareness about Majuli and the sattras through performances, lecture demonstrations and classes.
Together, the two companies performed the premiere of Sattriya: An Odyssey of the Spirit, choreographed by Bhabananda Barbayan, leader of The Dancing Monks.
Sattriya is a form of dance-drama developed in the monasteries of Assam as a way of worship. The monks dance to honor god Vishnu in his flute-playing Krishna incarnation, narrating playful, sensuous and fantastical episodes of his life, as recounted in the ancient epics. It is an unbroken, living tradition that includes drama, dance, song and a special form of choreographed yoga.
For centuries, Sattriya remained confined to monasteries, where celibate monks practiced, nurtured and preserved it as part of their daily rituals. Women had little access to studying the form until the mid-20th century. It was only in the year 2000 that the government of India incorporated the dance into its pantheon of classical arts.
The event was enjoyed by the enthusiastic audience.