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Rina Jana's Odissi recital
- Dr. Sunil Kothari

June 22, 2012

Under the aegis of Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) in their Horizon series, Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra's senior disciple Rina Jana from Kolkata gave a delectable Odissi recital on 15th June 2012.

Trained under Kelubabu's watchful eye, Rina had from a very young age shown potential of being a dancer of merit. She watched Sanjukta Panigrahi and was much influenced by her dancing. She took lessons from her also and at one point she looked like Sanjukta when dancing. Then it was brought to her notice that she had to develop her own individual style and not imitate Sanjukta. That was enough and since then she performs with Úlan and confidence like a born dancer.

She has a fine figure, which falls into myriad of sculptures that adorn the temples in Orissa. Whether it is alasa, languorous posture, darpani, looking into mirror, abhiman, index finger near the lower part of the face and other arm raise above head, chauka, the square basic stance, or tribhanga, three body bends, she excels in performing all with ease and perfect resolutions of movements. Her nritta has all that Guru Kelubabu wanted her to master and execute creating visuals of sculptural beauty.

She began with a prayer to Lord Jagannath, "Jagannathswami nayan path gami bhavatu me" and went on to Gita Govinda ashtapadi, "Shrita kamalakuch" in a seamless manner. A composition of Kelubabu, revealing his artistry as a painter, each stanza had visuals embellishing the poetry. Garudasana, astride Garuda, subjugating Kaliya, vanquishing ten-headed Ravana, effulgent like sun, the soulful singing by Debashish heightened the total impact. That Odissi music has its own individual identity and is classical now does not need any confirmation from the textual or traditional sources. Bhubaneswar Mishra and Kelubabu's working together has left a melodious musical legacy. For more than fifty years, we are watching and listening to dance compositions created by Kelubabu and music created by Bhubaneswar Mishra. Kelubabu's playing on mardala was superb. Banamali Maharana has carried on that tradition and his accompaniment adds another dimension to the dancer's performance.

The Behag pallavi has its own charm. Rina performed with complete involvement. The flute, the violin, the mardala, the delicate sound of ginni, all complimented her dance. Some of the movements, which only Sanjukta used to execute, were interwoven by Rina imaginatively. It was a sheer joy to watch and listen and relish the pure dance number.

Kelubabu explored various traditional Odiya songs for abhinaya. Rina chose to present "Braja ku chor ashu chi," a lullaby when Yashoda cajoles baby Krishna to sleep. If he does not, then a thief who has come to Braja would steal him away. She talks of Bakasura, Dhenukasura but to no avail. Naughty Krishna does not want to sleep. He asks for butter, and gets it. He cries in a manner that mother cannot bear to see him crying. When he eats earth crawling on the floor, she is annoyed but embraces Krishna and finally when he pretends to sleep in a cradle, she also feels sleepy and quietly wants to leave, but Krishna runs after her. She is exasperated and puts him in the cradle again and Krishna falls asleep. The audience claps, and she puts her index finger on her lips and tells audience not to disturb as the child Krishna has finally gone to sleep. The abhinaya piece was movingly rendered by her and was applauded by the audience for her command over expressions.

Rina Jana is a gifted dancer and is cast in a classical mould representing Kelubabu's style. It is always a pleasure to watch her dance. It reminds one of Kelubabu's choreography, musical excellence of Bhubaneswar Mishra and a very creative period in the growth and development of Odissi dance. The team of musicians gave her excellent support. A memorable evening.

Dr. Sunil Kothari
Dr. Sunil Kothari is a dance historian, scholar, author and a renowned dance critic. He is Vice President of World Dance Alliance Asia Pacific India chapter, based in New Delhi. He is honored by the President of India with Padma Shri, Sangeet Natak Akademi award and Senior Critic Award from Dance Critics Association, NYC. He is a regular contributor to, the roving critic for monthly magazine Sruti and is a contributing editor of Nartanam for the past 11 years.

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