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Ileana Citaristi


Italian by birth Ileana holds a Doctorate in Philosophy with a thesis on 'Psychoanalysis and eastern mythology'. She has come to Indian dance after years of experience in the traditional as well as experimental theatre in Europe.

Ileana has been living in Orissa, India, since the year 1979 in close contact with the people, their language and culture. Her mentor in the Odissi dance style is the renown Guru, Padma Vibhushan Kelucharan Mohapatra. She is equally at home with the different martial postures of the Chhau dance of Mayurbhanji which she has learnt under the guidance of Guru Shri Hari Nayak, obtaining the title of ‘Acharya’ from the Sangeet Mahavidyalya of Bhubaneswar in Orissa.

Her contributions, besides the many performances and lecture-demonstrations given in all the major centres in India, include articles on Oriya culture published in Indian and foreign magazines, research work for film-documentaries on Odissi and Chhau dances and practical dance workshops for dancers and theatre workers which she regularly conducts under invitation by different institutions in India and abroad. She has given performances in all the major dance festivals in India as well as in Italy, Argentina, Poland, France, Germany. Holland, Denmark, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Japan, USA, Australia and Israel.

Her innovative choreographies in Mayurbhanji Chhau include the Greek myth ‘Echo and Narcissus’, which was a revelation at the East-West Dance Encounter held in Bombay in April 1985, ‘The Wreck’ (December 1988), ‘Icarus’ (July 1991), ‘Pancha Bhuta’ (January 1996), ‘The Journey’ (September 1998), ‘Images of Change’ (March 2000), ‘Surya devata’ (December 2001), ‘Jarjara’ (January 2003) and in Odissi style the ballet ‘Maya Darpan’ premiered at Nehru Center in Bombay in April 1993.

‘A’ grade artist from Cuttack Television, Ileana has been awarded the prestigious title ‘Leonide Massine for the art of dance’ in Italy in September 1992 and the ‘Raseshwar’ award by the Sur Singar Sansad, Bombay, in December 1994. In May 1996 she won the ‘National Award for best choreography’ for her dance direction to the Bengali film ‘Yugant’ directed by Aparna Sen. She has conducted a research on the Martial Art of Orissa under the aegis of the Indira Gandhi National Center for the Arts in 1991 and in 1996 she has been granted a senior Fellowship by the Dept. of Culture, Government of India, for writing a book on Kelucharan Mohapatra’s life. The book titled ‘The making of a guru’ has been published by Manohar and released in New Delhi, in April 2001.

In Bhubaneswar she is imparting training in Odissi and Chhau dances to local as well as visiting students in her own institution ‘Art vision’, founded by her in the year 1995. Through Art Vision Ileana has organised along the years several Festivals unique in concept like the ‘Festival of films on performing and visual arts’ which has reached the 6th edition and the ‘Kalinga Mahotsav’, a Festival of Martial Dances held in front of the Dhauli stupa at Bhubaneswar. Art Vision is regularly hosting performances of folk theatre in the mini auditorium situated in its own premises.


Dance Productions

Concept & Choreography
- Dr.Ileana Citaristi
Music composition by - Shantunu Mohapatra
The choreography brings together the dynamism of two styles of martial dance: the Tang Ta of Manipuri and the Chhau style of Orissa. The item takes inspiration from the opening section of the Natya Shastra which describes how the enactment of the first play in Indra's court was disrupted by the demons displeased for having been adversely portrayed.
Surya Devata
Concept & Choreography -
- Dr.Ileana Citaristi  
Music composition
- Sri Radhakrishna Bhanja  


Ramakanta Sen, Pagulu Jena, Guruva Baitha, Foren Dhada, Deva Dhada, Ranjan Baitha, Sanjeet Ghodei, Santanu Nayak, Dilip Nayak


Dhol: Loknath Dhada, Chhabis Dhada, Naba Ghadei
Mohuri: Ramchandra Ghadei, Kishor Ghadei, Gambhir Dhada
Kadka: Ratan Ghadei
Dhumsa: Bideshi Baitha
Duration - 25 min
Year of production - 2001

he Sun is depicted in its different positions such as the raising sun, the sun at its zenith, the setting sun and the nocturnal sun. Surya, the raising sun- worshipers perform Surya Nomaskar near the weaves of the ocean from where the sun is raising in its chariot.Mrityu, the sun at its zenith- the rays of the sun (described as golden birds) become more and more powerful. The unbearable heat dries up all vegetation. Savitry, the setting sun- the curative and spiritual aspect of the sun, which heals and restores to life. Varuna, the nocturnal sun- surrounded by the eight planets the sun is at the centre of the zodiacal circle. It is seen re-emerging gloriously in the morning in his chariot drawn by four horses, flank by Skanda and Agni on his sides, holding a lotus in his right hand and the reins in his left.
Images of Change

Concept and choreography           - Ileana Citaristi
Music                                              - Jyotishka Dasgupta

Ileana Citaristi
Nitin Sharma

Duration - 23 min.

The item is inspired by the ancient system of Chinese philosophy which interprets the entire universe as an unending interplay between the two basic opposite forces of yin and yang, feminine and masculine. Their symbol, two fishes locked in a circle, represents the complementary characteristic of all polarities. Graphically rendered as two moving lines, the first divided and the second undivided, the two basic concepts of K'un, the receptive and Ch'ien, the creative, represent with their alternate movement, all the possible variants in existence.

The development of the item is as follows:

I   segment: the two opposites are not yet separated, they play together as one.
II segment: the great beginning begets the two fundamental forces, the creative, masculine, and the receptive, feminine.
III segment: after separation, the opposites complementing each other
IV segment: transformations in space and time
V segment: dream sequence, relativity between dream and reality
VI segment: circumbalation of light, return to wholeness.

The Journey
Date of production - 1998
Concept & Choreography - Ileana Citaristi
Music Composition - Jyotishka Dasgupta
Lights - Srikant Chowdhury
Duration - 22 min
Innovative item which stretches the possibilities of the Chhau style of dance into a modern interpretation of the same.

The piece develops through different moments underlined by the recitation of Japanese 'haikus' by Osho and by the dancer herself.

The ‘journey’ starts at dawn and ends at sunset; it passes through stages which could be associated to phases in one’s own life but it tends to come back and to start every time from the same point, in a sort of unending spiral.

The voice which at the end asks playfully to the summer moon if “are there shortcuts in the sky?” is the voice of innocence, able with a single question to reveal the absurdity of human illusions.

Pancha Bhuta
(A dance production in Mayurbhanj Chhau Style performed by dancers of the
Mayurbhanj Chhau Nrutya Prathisthan, Baripada
trained under the Central Sangeet Natak Akademi Project).

Date of production - January 1996
Concept & Choreography - Ileana Citaristi
Music Composition - Shantanu Mohapatra, Niranjan Bhol
Trilochan Mohanta, Santanu Naik, Ramchandra Das, Pradeep Mohanty, Dilip Naik, Upendra Singh, Sanjeet Ghadei, Pagula Jena, Debnarayan Dhada, Ramakanta Sen, Subhasree Banerjee, Sumitra Naik.
Light Designer - Srikanta Chaudhuri
Co-ordinator- L. N. Das
The five elements (Pruthivi, Ap, Tejam, Vayu, Akasa) are shown in their original state: Earth (solid), Water (liquid), Fire (heat), Wind (prana), Ether (space). - Harmony reigns among them.

Intrusion by men and technology: with development goes the exploitation of natural resources. Construction, cutting, digging, elimination of non profitable species, mechanisation of life ... lead to collapse of the original ecological balance.

Pollution in the form of Vritta asuras; circumscribing forces which block, separate, create enimity among elements leading the different forms of existence towards self- destruction.

Re-establishing of balance between macro and microcosmos through the re-discovery of an intimate relationship between Man and Nature. Man instead of playing the role of a Master who usurps the. benefits of Nature, takes his place within the Universe, between Heaven and Earth, between the infinite cosmic space -and the environment formed of all the living things on our planet.

Maya Darpan
Year of production - 1993
Concept and script - Sri Jivan Pani
Choreography - Dr. Ileana Citaristi
Music - Sri Partho Das
Light and sound - Arun Madkaikar
Dancers - 6 females and 1 male
Duration - 53 min.

The concept of Maya in Indian philosophy is as metaphysical as poetic. Maya Darpan, the choreographic composition based on the Odissi style has been inspired by the poetic treatment of the concept of Maya in various Upanishads.

In the first scene we are facing the watery surface of the Timeless Being; the moment 'Time' or 'Rhythm' creeps in, the dimension of 'Space' takes shape and 'Prakruti' or Nature is born.

From the cosmic union between 'Prakruti', the female principle and the male cosmic being, generations of creatures are born. all are limbs of the same body, but they look as separated and individual beings. Through the deception of the five senses, the original oneness is lost into a myriad of experiences which form the insatiable hunger of our lives.

Until tired of this endless run, man looks inside himself and rediscovers the unity of all.

Echo and Narcissus
Date of production - April 1985
Choreography - Ileana Citaristi
Music - Igor Watkevitch
Duration - 18 min

An innovative choreography that blends the Mayurbhanji Chhau technique, a semi-classical style from the east Indian state of Orissa with the famous classic Greek myth.

The Greek myth goes that Echo, seeing the beautiful Narcissus hunting in the forest, falls in love with him. At first entices and then rejected by him, out of despair, she loses her body and remains only a voice that cannot be silent if others talk, but cannot talk if others remain silent. Narcissus, proud and unapproachable, and cursed by all the nymphs to fall in love with somebody he can never get, falls in love with his own reflection in the water. This insane attachment to his own reflection leads him to a premature death.

Visually, Narcissus has been rendered as movement and Echo as vibration created by the movements. By trying to escape from his own projections, Narcissus instead, gets more and more trapped by them. His incapacity to relate to others and his introverted obstinacy lead him towards a final dissolution into the water of the unconscious.

Contact details:

Ileana Citaristi
1965, Bindusagar (west)
Bhubaneswar 751002- India
Tel. (fax): 0091-674-2433779
email: ileana5@hotmail.com
website: www.kalinga.net/ileana