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Odissi Dance Guru Surendra Nath Jena

Guru Surendra Nath Jena received the Sangeet Natak Akademy Award in 2007 from the President of India at a ceremony in Kamani Auditorium, New Delhi, India, and passed away in October of the same year. We are so glad that his lifetime achievement was recognized by this highest honor for artists in India before he left this world!

Guru S.N. Jena was born in Uchapur, Orissa, India (a village near the city of Bhadrak), and was one of the few “old masters” among a handful of proponents who first began the teaching of Odissi Dance as a performing art.  Odissi Dance emerged from a centuries old tradition of temple dancers, consecrated to the Hindu Gods and Goddesses as devoted servants, rarely seen by the world outside the temple walls.

He was a member of a traveling theatre group known as a “Jatra Party ” from the age of 12.  He learned, taught, and began to compose in the classical dance form native to his home state.  Odissi Dance had much in common with the dramatic enactment of tales from Hindu literature as carried to the villagers in Jatra theatre.

Now he is remembered as one of the foremost exponents of Classical Indian Dance, Odissi Style, and his three daughters and one son have followed in his footsteps to carry on the tradition. His eldest daughter, Pratibha Jena Singh, is a full-time dance guru at Triveni Kala Sangam, New Delhi, in the same classroom where her father taught from 1965 until he passed the mantle on to her when he reached age 72. 

His son Nirmal teaches in Sydney, Australia (see his website: http://odcdance.tripod.com ). Guruji's daughter Rekha Jena Pradhan (right), is teaching in Rajasthan, and Rama Jena (below, left), his youngest, is an excellent singer as well as Odissi Dancer,  in Bhubaneswar, Orissa.  They have formed the Guru Surendra Nath Jena Trust which gives awards to lesser known upcoming Odissi Dancers each year.  Seen below at their first award ceremony, Smt. Kumudini Jena, their mother, is presented flowers. 


Please visit Guruji's site: www.surendranathjenaodissi.com.

Dance Photos by: Avinash Pasricha