Masako Ono – Japanese Odissi Dancer

Updated: Mar 24, 2019

Expressing through performing art.


Masako Ono – Japanese Odissi Dancer

Masako Ono is one of the exponent Odissi (Indian Classical Dance) dancers in the world. She has been a source of inspiration to all including natives to adopt classical dance and music into life.

Ono, a Japanese national, is working in the temple city of Bhubaneswar, Odisha. She has been in India since 1996, the days when she decided to dedicate her life in learning and promoting – Odissi – the soul of Odisha.

Late Guru Shri Kelucharan Mohapatra, noted Odissi dancer, was her inspiration, whose dance touched her soul and changed her entire life. After watching the performance of Shri Mohapatra, she decided to visit India and learn the dance from the Guru.

She set a rare example of love for western culture and dance. Her passion for the dance made her a successful dancer today. It was not an easy move for her to adapt Odissi dance as her life. But, she proved her mettle through her dedication.

She achieved much recognition; in 2008 she was featured as one of the 100 most respected and outstanding Japanese in the world by Newsweek (Japanese Issue).

Masako Ono started getting dance training from her Guru Masako Yokoi at the age of 4 years. Not only Odissi, Masako learned many other dances such as western classical ballet at the Matsuyama Ballet in Tokyo and jazz dance & hip hop at the K-Broadway Dance Center, Tokyo.

She joined Nrityagram, the dance village in India in 1996 and received training from Late Protima Gauri Bedi. After the death of Protima, Surupa Sen and Bijayini Satpathy trained Ono. Ono after getting five years of training at Nrityagram, she started performing solo as a soloist/solo artist. She started living in Odisha and received further training from classical dancers like – late Guru Shri Kelucharan Mohapatra, Guru Ramani Ranjan Jena, and Guru Naba Kishore Mishra.

She has been living in the temple city – Bhubaneswar since 2001. She has been training Odissi dancers and established Masako Ono Performing Arts (MOPA) in India and Japan. She launched MUDRA Foundation to share art with everyone including socially weak communities. She has organised several workshops of dance/music/art craft by noted artists from the globe at various weak communities in India. She still remembers the moment when her dance students gave a short performance at a disabled children’s school, some children started to cry after the dance performance and asked the dancers to shake hands with them. Also, after a dance workshop at a deaf & mute school, the kids wrote a big “THANK YOU, TEACHER!” on the blackboard.

Currently, she is making a photo book on DHOKRA, the brass art craft using the lost wax technique (cire perdue), to feature those art and artisans in the remote area of India and spread their art to the globe. Very few people dare to dream and lead a life like Ono, who adopted the Indian culture and art. Many of us do not recognize the value of art & culture of our country and state. People like Ono have shown their true dedication for Odissi dance, which gives an identity to the state of Odisha at the international stage. We salute to the spirit of Masako Ono, who has been on a mission to spread the message of divinity of Odissi to the world.

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