Sinuous forms, supple limbs and rapt expressions frozen in temple stone tell of an ancient dance performed in Orissa as far back as the 2nd century BC in sacred ritual to the gods. Later, the devadasis – or Maharis – were given in service to Jagannatha, the Lord of the Universe. Jayadeva’s Gita Govinda of the 12th century enriched this tradition greatly, and spread rapidly throughout the country. The intolerance of invader rulers, however, marked the end of the tradition of the Maharis – a word possibly derived from maha (great) nari (woman), or the Chosen One. Vaishnava followers, meanwhile, patronised boy dancers – the Gotipuas who, dressed as females, began performing in public places. Restructured and resurgent, Odissi, today, derives from these as well as the sculpture and manuscript traditions. Its movements continue to reflect the motifs of the temple architecture of Orissa. It captures the rhythms, melodies and poetry taken from the vast canon of Oriya as well as Sanskrit literature.

Bindu Juneja’s love for dance was inculcated by her parents who had a keen awareness for the arts and encouraged her to take it up as a life pursuit. Her initiation into the world of dance was through Bharatanatyam at the Bhatkhande Sangeet Mahavidyalaya, Lucknow. She was, later, drawn to Odissi and learnt from the leading exponent of the form Madhavi Mudgal. Living in close proximity with her guru, Bindu imbibed the deeper nuances of the latter’s art, besides also receiving guidance from Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra. Bindu has been composing for the past nearly two decades. Her serendipitous meeting with Meera Rao, a senior musician and composer, made it possible for her to produce a sizeable body of her own work. Marriage to a flautist husband gave her the nurturing environment of music so essential to dance. Bindu embodies in her dance the flowing seamlessness of Odissi. Her sensitivity towards allied arts, such as music, painting and textile, has shaped her aesthetic in dance. Search for a richer vocabulary for Odissi drew her towards older and highly stylised forms such as Kathakali as also Mohiniattam. Living in Bhopal in the very heart of India has brought her into intimate contact with the living cultural traditions of the region that have deeply influenced her work. Bindu’s performances in both India and abroad have brought her much appreciation for the grace and virtuosity she brings to her dance. Among her performing milestones are her recitals in the temple of Maheshwar, at Rashtrapati Bhavan for US President Obama, the Khajuraho Festival and the IIC Experience 2009. An empanelled artiste of the ICCR and Grade ‘A’ artiste of Doordarshan, Bindu currently also trains students in Bhopal.

Two of her students and nieces, Kalyani and Vaidehi Phagre, share the stage with her in Narmada Parikrama. Bindu has mentored them since their childhood. Kalyani, the elder of the two, has now started giving solo performances and is actively involved in Sanskrit theatre.

Presentation - The dance Narmada Parikrama attempts to render the beauty and grandeur of Narmada as an aesthetic reflection of the actual parikrama of one of the oldest of the sacred Indian rivers. It is the only river in the world which has a tradition of ritual circumambulation – parikrama – through its entire length of over 1300 km. Narmada descends from Amarkantak in the Vindhyas, gushing forth across mountains and forests, nurturing a rich civilisation and culture along its banks. Flanked by the Satpura and Vindhya ranges all along its hilly course, it arrives at the Gujarat plains at the very end of its journey, where it merges silently into the ocean. As one’s steps unfold newer aspects of the river, so too, in dance, do the following facets find address:
1. The divine origin of the river;
2. Through its boons, Oneness with all nature, as reflected in folk thought and culture;
3. The undulatory peregrinations of the river in often changing moods;
4. The grandeur at Sahasradhara, the waterfall where Narmada weaves a magical fabric with its myriad delicate streams;
5. The deep reverence for the river, as depicted in Adi Shankara’s Narmadashtakam, the stotra recited during the parikrama.

Artistes’ Credits
Concept Advisor and Composition of Lyrics: (Rewa ke teer, Sohe dhara) Ajita Trivedi
Music: Meera V. Rao, Abhay Phagre
Co-dancers: Kalyani Phagre, Vaidehi Phagre
Narration: Bhavana Pankaj
Pakhawaj and Manjeera – Prashant Maharana
Vocal – Pt. Raghunandan Panshikar
Flute – Abhay Phagre
Sitar – Saeed Zafar Khan
Santoor – Satyendra Solanki