4 Days of Intensive Training

August 21-26

Gitananda Matha Ashram in Savona, Italy

Set in a serene mountain ashram, this Odissi dance and Yoga retreat is a very unique chance to immerse into a yogic way of life that supports deep study and exploration of Indian classical dance and all its subtleties. 

Root yourself in a strong daily practice of yoga (pranayama, asana and kriyas), train intensively in Odissi classical dance and take time for thoughtful reflection on Yogic philosophy and Indian Aesthetic theory as described in ancient texts and preserved in our lineages. 

Recharge, detoxify and refocus in this sattvic environment while enjoying the quiet of nature, eating healthy vegetarian food and sharing time with fellow dancers / yogis.  When we take this time out of our busy lives to discover a healthy lifestyle and state of mind, our growth as artists increases at an exponential rate.  Enjoy taking this time for yourself to going deeper into the source of your artistic inspiration!

(*Sattvic: having a serene, harmonious quality, balanced mind or attitude) 

(*Ashram: a Hindu hermitage, monastic community, or place of religious retreat)


Modeled after a typical day at Colleena’s school in Rajasthan (Shakti School of Dance), students will receive 4 hours (or 6 hours) per day of professional dance training, as well as instruction for the subtle practices of yoga, strength training, and philosophy.  These additional elements in the training are the signature teachings Colleena has compiled for her own school’s training programs, which she finds essential support the artist into a deeper experience of dance.  This retreat is open to all levels of experience, but please note that classical Indian dance is a rigorous practice that requires a high level of concentration, strength and stamina.

The daily schedule will include:


Specialized movements to build muscle and find balance in order to benefit our dance bodies.  These exercises are compiled from Colleena’s extensive dance background and quest for perfection.  The exercises will include inspiration and techniques from:  Pilates, classical Ballet training, Indian martial arts (Chhau and Kalaripayattu) and traditional Odissi warm-ups.

ODISSI TECHNIQUE: Odissi Technique Foundation – Stepping

Beginners and professionals alike use this “stepping” practice (20 + 2 basic phrases) to refine one’s rhythm sense, develop precision in footwork, find grace in the upper body and hand movements, as well as build stamina, confidence and dexterity through the mantra-like repetition.  The foundation of classical dance should be built strongly so the layers of complexity blend together with clarity and precision.  Odissi dance training begins with 22 dance phrases segregated by the 2 main postures used in the dance: Chowka and Tribhangi and performed at various speeds.  New students can expect an introduction to an array of these Stepping exercise as well as the Tihayi compositions, while Level 2 students will work stamina and on cleaning the movement.


All classical Indian dance style refers back to the ancient treatise on dance – Natya Shastra, as well as the Abhinaya Darpana to find its dance vocabulary.  We will focus this class on learning important mudras and their common uses, head positions, foot positions, turns, gazes, walks, full body postures and more.  A student of Indian dance must memorize this vocabulary to speak the language of odissi and grasp it’s vast potential.  This class will offer a methodical way for note-taking and memorizing this complex dance.  The final few days of our time together, short dance phrases of the Odissi repertoire will also be shared to give newer students a taste of what classical choreography feels like.  


In Odissi, choreographies are traditionally preserved through a lineage and slowly passed on over the years.  Continuing students who have learned 2 or more items in Guru Kelu Charan Mohapatra style may apply for Level 2.  Based on the participant’s capacity, an item will be selected and taught over the week together.  


Indian classical arts are based on a vast and ancient system of philosophies that interweave and create the context for some of the greatest works of art in human history.  This class is a chance to delve into the ancient views of art and spirituality, finding where the paths of yoga and dance become one.  Lectures will range from topics including: history of Odissi dance, Yoga Sutras, Ayurveda, dramaturgy and stagecraft, mythological stories and more.  *Special guest lecture & Kuchipudi class by Swami Atmananda


Gitananda Ashram stage performance on: Sunday, August 25th!

Colleena Shakti, Shakti School of Dance Diploma Students and guest dancers will present an Odissi Classical dance performance in collaboration with Swami Atmananda Giri who will present Kuchipudi classical dance.  All are welcome, entry is free!


August 21 & 26 are Arrival /Departure days

August 22-25 will be full training schedule as mentioned below 

Ashram activities are optional (italicized below)

  • 06:30 – 7:30 – Yoga & Meditation (Ashram)
  • 08.15 to 09.00 – Breakfast 
  • 09.30 to 10.30 – Stepping : Odissi Technique Foundation – Level 1 & 2
  • 10.30 to 11.30 – Technique &  Composition – Level 1 & 2
  • 12.00 to 14.00 – Odissi Repertoire & Group Composition- Level 2
  • 13.00 to 13.30 – Arthi (Ashram)
  • 14.00 to 15.00 – Lunch
  • 17.00 to 18.00 – Technique &  Composition – Level 1
  • 18.15 to 19.15 – Theory
  • 19.30  – Satsang (Ashram)

Level 1 students:  4hrs / day

1 hr Odissi Technique Foundation – Exercises & Stepping

2 hr Technique &  Composition.  Technique is a careful break down of stepping, chari (walks), bramhari (turns), plus a small section of choreography

1 hr Theory 

Level 2 students: 5 hours / day  (Prior approval by teacher required)

1 hr Odissi Technique Foundation – Exercises & Stepping

1 hr Technique &  Composition’  (technique is a careful break down of stepping, chari (walks), bramhari (turns), plus a small section of choreography)

1 hr Odissi Repertoire 

1 hr Odissi Group Composition and Performance Prep.

1 hr Theory 

LEVEL 2: Application required

What is Required: Minimum 2 years experience in Odissi training in Shakti School of Dance or a related odissi lineage.  Students must have competency in all stepping exercises, Mangalacharan, and one basic Abhinaya (Hari Om or Vakratunda).  A regular Odissi practice should be maintained by dancers applying and they should be able to perform all basics with reasonable mastery upon arrival or send a recent video of their dance.


All levels are accepted for Level 1, only the Level 2 program requires an application.

Please email with the following information written in English:

  1. For how long have you been training in Odissi?
  2. Name and location of your teacher, as well as the LINEAGE you are learning from them?
  3. Please list the items you are proficient in and the date you learned the item?
  4. How many hours per week / per month do you practice Odissi?
  5. If you have not trained directly with Colleena, please submit a short (1-5 minute) video of a recent Odissi performance or practice demonstrating your skill.
  6. Are you able and interested to offer a performance of Managalacharan or any other Odissi Item?  Please explain (You will be required to bring al of your own costuming is accepted to perform)


– Reusable water bottle

– Pen and Notebook (for theory class)

  • Dance Clothing:  Please wear *modest, comfortable dance clothes that allow you to open the knees completely and squat to the floor.  Baggy or flared pants are not recommended, because they will get in the way of your intricate footwork.  Stretch pants that are tight-fitting at the ankle are best (so your teacher can see your feet).  Indian traditional dance clothing is preferred, which is either a dance sari (with blouse and leggings underneath) or salwaar kameez (tunic and pants), but not required.  
  • Students who have been approved to perform should bring all Odissi ornaments, stage makeup, ghungaroo and inquire about costume / performance sari color


  • Towel and all toiletries
  • Flashlight
  • Warm jacket or sweater (it is in the mountains and can be cold at night)
  • Modest clothing – You will be living amongst monks and active temples

Location & Accommodation 

Matha Gitananda Ashram | Località Pellegrino 1 – 17041 Altare – SV – Italy


The Ashram is a monastery, so all guests are encouraged to maintain an attitude of respect for things, people, animals and plants all the time of the visit.

The life of the Ashram is inspired by the principles of Sanatana Dharma and the most profound Hindu tradition.

Anyone who wishes to devote himself to the study of himself and to the rediscovery of his own spirituality is always well received and here he can find the ideal conditions: peace, silence, contact with nature, common life experiences and above all contact with an ancient yoga tradition, an evolutionary system, the Siddha Siddhanta Yoga.

For the respect of the life of the community, for ethics, for one’s own and other people’s health, NO SMOKING, ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE IS NOT DRINKED and attitudes of respect must be observed towards things, people and animals.

You can not take pictures or make videos without permission. We recommend comfortable clothing and appropriate environment monastery.

It is advisable to wear comfortable clothing for both practice and free time; moreover, in many areas of the Ashram you are walking barefoot.


Pricing Options:

  • Level 1: 450€ Early Bird Special (through June 7) / 550 € thereafter
  • Level 2: 500 € Early Bird (through June 7) / 600 € thereafter


  • 150€ to give as an offering to the Ashram for shared rooms for 5 night and 3 vegetarian meals a day.

Refund Policy

Please note:  this workshop offers NO REFUNDS once the workshop has been paid, for any reason.  Please plan carefully for this opportunity. **By completing your payment via Paypal, you are agreeing to the terms of this refund policy.**

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