Elena Catalano is an Odissi dancer, teacher and scholar presently based in the UK.
Her artistic and academic career has been strongly influenced by an instinctive interest in the diversity of human practices and beliefs. This fascination with the nature of culture, honed by higher studies in cultural anthropology, has gradually merged with Elena's inborn talent for the performing arts.
Initiated into dance, gymnastics and theatre at an early age, Elena has explored different techniques, including Yoga, Flamenco, Oriental and African dance, finally establishing herself as a professional dancer, after the life-changing encounter with Odissi, an Indian classical dance. Profoundly enchanted and intellectually intrigued by the beauty, power and depth of this dance vocabulary, Elena has devoted herself to intensive training and research into the cultural and philosophical elements of this style.
Elena began and continues her Odissi training at Srjan, under the able guidance of her gurus Sujata and Ratikant Mohapatra. She has received several scholarships to pursue advanced training and research in Odissi. Among others, the ICCR scholarship 2010-12, which brought her to study with Priyambada Pattnaik (Nrityagram) in New Delhi, and the prestigious Milap Fellowship, which funded two visits at Srjan between 2012 and 2014. In 2011, Elena has also been the recipient of the highly competitive DanceWEB scholarship for emergent choreographers.
In addition to her dance training, Elena has benefited from fully funded doctoral studies at Durham University and several bursaries and travel grants to carry out her ethnographic research in India. Her PhD research investigated somatic experience in Odissi. Elena has also received accolades for her academic writing, such as the Paola Bianchi Award 2009, Pauline Hodgens Award 2010 and the Premlata Sharma Award 2012.