A rare and prolific Odissi Indian dancer in SLC: Bijayini Satpathy

By Sophie Silverstone

A dancer who ballet legend Mikhail Baryshnikov goes out of his way to see, and who choreographer Mark Morris considers to be “easily among the top five dancers I’ve seen in my lifetime” offers Salt Lake a chance to enjoy her delicate mastery of her art form this weekend. Dancer Bijayini Satpathy will perform KALPANA– the world of the imagination, on Saturday, August 31 at the Leona Wagner Black Box Theater at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center. The evening is presented by the local group, ChitraKaavya Dance. Satpathy dances in the classical Indian dance form of Odissi, a form of lyrical and highly expressive dance storytelling that dates back to the 10th century.

This August Satpathy headlined at the Drive East Indian dance festival in New York, to which The New Yorker, the New York Times and others took enthusiastic notice. “It is this desire to lose herself in the movement, and in the stories that it embodies, that drives her, and, in turn, makes her dancing so riveting to watch,” writes the Marina Harss of The Times and DanceTabs, “I’ve never seen a more vivid performer.”

Kalpana is Sanskrit for “imagination.” The evening performance of Kalpana consists of works choreographed by both Surupa Sen, the artistic director of the Nrityagram Ensemble, her home institution, and more traditional works by Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra, the teacher and choreographer who is considered the dancer to revive the body language of Odissi in the 20th century.

The sensuous form of Indian dance called Odissi originated in the Hindu temples of Odissa, an eastern state of India. Satpathy, also originates from the region, and was raised in Odissa’s capital city, Bhubaneswar. She trained in Odissi from an early age, as did many young girls in the region. Although she earned a degree in education, the universe had other plans for her. After an audition for the Nrityagram dance company and dance school in Bangalore, India, she immersed herself in dance, and became the star dancer of the company.

Satpathy recently launched her solo dance career, after dancing and teaching for more than 25 years at Nrityagram. She turned 45 last year. Beyond her solo performances by her teachers in Nityagram, she is starting work on her own choreography. She tells the Times that she had a “strong urge to push into an untouched and underexplored dimension” of her artistry “before it was too late.”

Saturday’s performance is not a night to be missed. Through the intensity of Satpathy’s vivid facial expressions, and her wide-eyed gaze, audiences will be able to peak into the eyes of one of Odissi’s most prominent figures, and into one of dances’ oldest and most luscious forms of expression.


Bijayini Satpathy in Kaplana – the world of the imagination

Presented by ChitraKaavya

Leona Black Box Theater, Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center

138 W Broadway, Salt Lake City


Recommended for ages 5 and up

$18 | Find Tickets Here

This article was originally published on August 28, 2019.