MUDRA is an Indian classical dance group at Mizzou focused on odissi style dancing. President Laura Mikytuck, sophomore, met with Her Campus Mizzou to explain odissi and to talk about her passion for this type of dance.
Her Campus Mizzou: What does ‘MUDRA’ mean?
Laura Mikytuck: Mudra is a series of symbolic body postures and hand gestures that are used to express a thought or a feeling in East Indian classical dance. Our hand movements and body postures are all very specific and must be in perfect form.
HCM: When and how did MUDRA start at MU?
LM: Aditi Bandyopadhyay, who is an accomplished Odissi dancer and native of India, moved to Missouri in 2007 where she combined with interim instructor Anagha Sawant to form the club in 2008. Allison Fey, who had studied abroad in India and became fascinated with odissi, came to grad school at MU in 2010 and continued spreading the word of MUDRA around campus, and the club began growing more and more.
HCM: How did you become interested in odissi?
LM: I became interested in odissi spring semester of freshman year when I was in an intro to World Religions class. When we began talking about Hinduism, one of the TAs (Allison Fey) gave a presentation about her time abroad in India. While she was in India, she fell in love with odissi and performed a dance for us in class. She told us that if we were interested, we could come by one of MUDRA’s practices and learn it ourselves. I took her up on that opportunity and really enjoyed it and thought it would be a really fun and new interesting skill to learn and a fun way to become involved on campus.
HCM: What is MUDRA’s goal as a campus organization?
LM: MUDRA’s goal as an organization is to spread the joy of dance. We want to expose people at MU and around the city of Columbia to the Indian culture through Indian classical dance and music. We also want to collaborate with other dance organizations on campus.
HCM: Does MUDRA perform? If so, when and where?
LM: Yes, MUDRA performs a couple times each semester. There is a performance every summer at Flat Branch Park. In the past, MUDRA has performed at the MU International Night in March 2011 and 2012 and at the Columbia Dance Festival in 2010. We have no scheduled performances currently because we have not been holding practice this semester, but we hope to pick back up next year!
HCM: How can a student become part of MUDRA?
LM: A student can become part of MUDRA simply by attending one of our practices once they start up again next semester and expressing their interest and commitment to the club.
HCM: What do you like about being involved in a dance group with other students?
LM: I have never danced a day in my life so when my TA suggested we go to one of the practices and check it out, I was really excited because I love learning new things. It’s a great way to get exercise in a really fun way, and I always like doing things that are challenging to me. Also it’s a great way to learn about another country’s culture in a way that you can’t experience from a textbook.