Founded by Elena Catalano in 2017 and based in London, Bhumi’s main ambition is to promote and establish Odissi dance as a contemporary practice, rooted in traditional principles, but constantly evolving through pedagogic, artistic and critical inquiry. Benefiting from Elena’s extensive dance training and research and by her collaborators’ expertise, Bhumi is becoming a catalyst for new generations of dancers and is engaged in creative collaborations and the creation of multimedia works.
Led by the belief that dance is a practice that can empower people and positively affect their lives, Bhumi is also involved in educational, community and therapeutic settings sharing the benefits of movement and creativity with vulnerable groups in particular and the wider society in general.
Presently, Bhumi offers weekly classes for adults in Odissi and workshops for children, dance lovers, professional movers and community groups. Bhumi’s collaborators are artists and scholars with expertise in Yoga, Hindustani Music, Sanskrit, Indian Folk Painting and Dance Physiotherapy.
Founder and artistic director of Bhumi, Elena has established herself has one of the leading and finest Odissi dancers in the UK. She has trained extensively in India at Srjan, Bhubaneswar, under Sujata and Ratikant Mohapatra. She has also studied in New Delhi under an ICCR scholarship and has regularly attended intensive workshops with her gurus, as well as senior artists such as Madhavi Mudghal and Ileana Citaristi. Most of her training has been possible through scholarships and bursaries offered by different funding bodies (e.g. MilapFest, Durham University Performing Arts, Kingston University Staff Development Fund). In June 2017, she has attended an intensive workshop at Nrityagram, thanks to funding by Movin’Up-Giovani Artisti Italiani and Lisa Ullman Travel Scholarship. This training has been extremely influencing and has informed much of Elena’s current practice.
As a child, Elena trained in artistic gymnastic, and as a teenager she was involved in experimental theatre and the Italian folk dance revival. Hailing from a small peripheral village in South Italy, at 18, during her studies in cultural anthropology at Universita’ La Sapienza in Rome, Elena was exposed to different forms of dance and began her training in African, Middle-Eastern, Flamenco, Ballet and Contemporary dance. After an intense journey of exploration and discovery through her body, Elena landed in India where she was profoundly enchanted by the intricacies of Odissi. This dance seemed to combine in a single multi-textured language the variety of skills she has acquired through her previous training in different art forms. These skills, layered in Elena’s body, emerge in her performativity.
Elena has completed her PhD at Durham University with a research on Odissi training and the embodiment of values and presently works as dance lecturer at Kingston University where she teaches odissi, yoga, dance anthropology and research methods. She juggles her academic with her artistic career and has been a key member of the Odissi Ensemble since 2015. In October 2017 she received the Yuva Nritya Ratna (Young Dancer of the Year) award.
Her dream of a lifetime is having her own centre for training and research in dance where people can learn and research through and about dance, ideally far from the bustle of urban life and in closer contact with nature. Bhumi represents a first step towards the realisation of this utopic dream.