Sambalpur: To preserve Western Odisha’s rich cultural heritage, the Centre of Excellence, Regional Development and Tribal Studies of Sambalpur University has embarked on a mission to revive two dance forms – ‘Maadli’ and ‘Dhap’, which are on the verge of extinction.
While the Maadli dance, which belongs to the indigenous communities of Western Odisha, holds a special place in the hearts of people, tribal dance of the region, Dhap is also known for its rhythmic beats and energetic movements.
Nodal officer of the center, Arun Kumar Acharya said, these dances, once vibrant expressions of the region’s tribal communities, have faded into obscurity over the years. However, meticulous efforts have been made to document, record and preserve these cultural treasures, he said.
Acharya said, that with the passing of time and the gradual erosion of tribal traditions, this unique dance form Maadli was on the brink of extinction. However, the Centre of Excellence formed a team of researchers, anthropologists, and artists to document the dance’s intricate movements, costumes, and cultural significance.
The process of documentation involved working closely with tribal elders who could recall fragments of Maadli’s choreography and its connection to tribal rituals.
Additionally, the team conducted interviews, gathered old photographs, and meticulously transcribed oral histories related to the dance and songs. The effort resulted in a comprehensive record that provided a vivid snapshot of Maadli’s past glory, he said.
“Similarly, efforts have also been undertaken to revive ‘Dhap’, a dance form that was also on the verge of disappearing. The team undertook field visits to remote villages, collaborating with the local communities to resurrect Dhap. The team also interviewed the last surviving practitioners of Dhap and documented their knowledge,” said Acharya.
The Centre of Excellence also organised a workshop to promote awareness about Maadli and Dhap. On that occasion, the centre also released comprehensive documentation titled ‘Maadli Dance Verge of Extinction: Revamping the Indigenous Tribal Culture’ and ‘Dhap: Representation of Socialism in Western Odisha.
“The centre of excellence will continue its work to preserve the western Odisha’s rich cultural heritage,” said Acharya.