Festival of Odissi Dance and Music
- Rahul Acharya
& Sangita Gosain, Bhubaneswar
Odissi Research Center
Bhubaneswar saw a grand gala festival of Odissi Dance and Music, organized
in the temple town, known to be the heaven of Odissi. This festival, organized
by the Department of Culture, Govt of Orissa in collaboration with Guru
Kelucharan Mohapatra Odissi Research Centre, saw the reigning stars of
the dance form along with the future faces of the fraternity. Organized
quite on the lines of the 3rd International Odissi Festival, held in 2006
(organized by IPAP, a US based cultural organization promoting Indian art
forms), this festival of dance and music featured more than 400 performers
(including 9 from abroad), both established and amateur. It seems Bhubaneswar
is experiencing a cultural renaissance.
The venue fixed
for the purpose was the only open air auditorium in Bhubaneswar, Utkal
Mandap, built in 2006 to host IPAP's 3rd International Odissi Festival.
No venue could have been better than this, as the seating capacity was
huge and was open to one and all. The stage was aesthetically designed
and a beautiful shamiana covered the sitting space to save the rasikas
from the chill of winter. It was surprising to see the auditorium packed
till late nights, despite the cold weather.
featured seminars on Odissi music, choreography, music accompaniment with
dance, Guru-Shishya Parampara and Aharya of Odissi. The seminars took place
in the mornings, followed by the morning session of dance recitals, featuring
5 dancers each day. The afternoon sessions began with vocal recitals followed
by the evening dance sessions that comprised of solo, duet and group performances.
Performances continued till 11pm in the night. It was amazing to
see the rasikas glued to their seats till the very end.
day of the festival (26th December 2007) started with vocal recitals by
Bharati Jena, Ram Behera, Laxman Behera and Binapani Nayak. Ram and Laxman
Behera represented the Dakshini style of Odissi singing. The versatile
vocalist Binapani Nayak stole the show. The dance session began with Janhabi
Behera's Durga Stuti, followed by Rajashree Praharaj, performing Guru Kelucharan
Mohapatra's famous choreography based on Poet Salabega's Ahe Nila Saila.
Rahul Acharya presented Ashta Sambhu, strictly adhering to the Deba
Prasad style conducted by his famous protégé, Guru Durga
Charan Ranbir. Geeta Shankaran from Malaysia presented a Pallavi set to
Raga Kiribani (recently composed by Guru Durga Charan Ranbir with music
set to Prof Ramahari Das' genius score and rhythm composed by Guru Dhaneswar
Swain). Vishnu Tattwa Das from USA, swept the audience off its feet,
by his rendition of Kuru Yadu Nandana. His sensuality and eroticism
was further heightened by the music, carrying everyone into a realm of
divine love play between Radha and Krishna. Manoranjan and Minati Pradhan
presented Ardhanariswara and lived up to their names. Jyoti Raut
danced to the lyrics of Gangaashtakam by Adi Shankaracharya and
presented two of her disciples, Ananda and Mallika in a Pallavi. The group
section saw the dancers of the Utkal Sangeet Mahavidyalaya in myriad colours
of the Pancha Devata with well synchronized movements and perfectly
executed tableaus. This was followed by Art Vision led by Ileana Citaristi,
presenting a Pallavi and Dasha Mahavidya.
The 2nd day of
the festival (27th December 2008), started with a seminar on "choreography
in traditional and experimental format" chaired by Dr. Dhirendranath Pattnaik
(The chair-person for all the seminars during the festival). The speakers
were Guru Durga Charan Ranbir, Guru Gangadhar Pradhan, Guru Bichitrananda
Swain, Guru Rabindra Atibuddhi and Dr. Ileana Citaristi. The seminar was
followed by dance recitals by Somanath Pradhan, Shakti Swaroopa Bir, Khyanaprava
Parida, Tanushree Rakhit, Suchitra Mohanty and Bhadra Chowdhry. Among them,
Suchitra Mohanty's performance of the abhinaya piece To Lagi Gopa Danda
stood out prominently. The danseuse who needs special mention in this category
was Shakti Swaroopa Bir, a physically challenged disciple of Guru Chittranjan
Acharya, who carried herself in a remarkable way.
session started with vocal recitals by Dheeraj Mohapatra, an upcoming young
vocalist, and Guru Gopal Chandra Panda, along with daughter disciple Sangeeta
Panda. The dance session started with an offering to Lord Rama Keki
kanthabha nilam by well known exponent Meera Das. This piece was choreographed
by Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra, with music by Pt Raghunath Panigrahi. The
male dancers on this day really impressed. It is heartening to see the
way male dancers are shaping up their careers these days. Anshuman Mishra,
an architect by profession, is obsessed with dance, his obsession being
furthered by the expert hands of Guru Ratikanta Mohapatra. Saswat Joshi's
Karna, an innovative piece choreographed by Ileana Citaristi, left
the audience spell bound. Debasish Pattnaik's rendition of Shivashtakam
revelled in Guru Durga Charan Ranbir's choreography. The dancer won applause
for his tremendous body control and breath taking postures. This session
also featured Jyotsnarani Sahu, Swetaleena Swain, Alpana Nayak, Muktilata
Pal, Itishree Mohanty, Radharani Mallik, Chandrakanta Sutar, Sharmistha
Sahoo and a very senior dancer Meenakhi Behera. Guru Nabakishore Mishra's
Abartta put up a neat show by presenting Om Namaha Shivaya performed
by an all male troupe. Meera Das' Gunjan Dance Academy presented some of
its finest dancers.
The 3rd day
(28th December 2007) started with a seminar on "Music accompaniment in
dance" and featured the stalwarts of Odissi music led by Prof Rahamari
Das. The participants were Kirtan Narayan Padhi, Guru Dhaneswar Swain,
Laxmikant Palit, Guru Satchidananda Das, Dr. Sangita Gosain, Bijay Kumar
Jena and Purushottam Parida. The dancers for the morning dance session
were Pallavi Das, Smarika Rout, Rashmirekha Das and Gouri Shankar Dash.
Rashmirekha's Durga stuti Jatajuta sama rudha was remarkable. The
only male dancer for this session, Gouri Shankar, showed great promise.
He performed a Nayika Abhinaya Bitila to jamini choreographed by
Guru Nabakishore Mishra.
Das & Guru Dhaneswar Swain
session featured some of the best musicians of Orissa. The vocal rendition
by Bijay Kumar Jena and Shyamani Devi won rave reviews and was followed
by a very involving Mardala session by the maestros of Odissi Mardala,
Guru Dhaneswar Swain and Guru Satchidananda Das. The evening dance session
featured Leena Nanda, Amulya Balbantaray, Arati Kar, Soumya Bose and Satchidananda
Pradhan, Sonali Mishra, Banita Pradhan, Dipti Routray, Geetanjali Acharya,
Sujata Mohapatra, Pragyan Priyadarshini Pattnaik, Gayatri Chand and Rekha
disciple and daughter in law of the doyen of Odissi, Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra
is known for her precision, accuracy and grace. She presented Barsha
composed by her husband Ratikanta Mohapatra. Another dancer who stole the
show was Dipti Routray, a senior disciple of Guru Durga Charan Ranbir,
who shone brilliantly in her abhinaya Kie lo sajani. Leena
Nanda and Sonali Mishra gave equally stunning performances. In the group
session it was Guru Bichitrananda Swain's Rudrakshya that really struck
the audience with awe. His all male troupe presented Surya Stutee
and Tala Madhurya with perfectly synchronized movements and brilliant
usage of space. Kala Vikas Kendra, a pioneer institute, that has been closely
associated with the development of Odissi, was appreciated for its performance.
day of the festival (29th December 2007) started with the morning seminar
on Guru Shishya Parampara and Aharya in Odissi Dance. The seminar was poorly
attended. The speakers for the seminar were Guru Chittranjan Acharya, Guru
Nabakishore Mishra, Meera Das and Rahul Acharya. The session was chaired
by Dr. Dhirendranath Pattnaik. This was followed by the dance session featuring
Subhalaxmi Samal and Alisha Mohapatra, Suhagnilini Das (the daughter-in-law
of Adi Guru Pankaj Charan Das), Moushmi Madhuchanda and Rachana Rimjhim.
The dancer who stood out was Rachana Rimjhim. The afternoon vocal session
featured Guru Keshab Chandra Rout, Ritanjali Kundu and a duet by Himanshu
Swain and Subhashis Baral.
The dancers for
the evening dance session were Munmun Chakravorty, Lucky Mohanty, Arupa
Gayatri Panda, Leena Mohanty, Trilochan Sahoo and Rosalin Srichandan, Subhashree
Pattnaik, Surendra Mohapatra, Madhusmita Mohanty, Prativa Panda and well
known exponents, Ranjana Gauhar and Geeta Mahalik. Leena Mohanty, a very
senior disciple of Guru Durga Charan Ranbir, was brilliant in her exposition
of a Pallavi set to Raga Suddhadeshi and abhinaya Sata Kaha. Her
perfection in body movements and her restrained subtle abhinaya was a visual
treat. Munmun Chakravorty presented a beautiful composition of Guru Ratikanta
Mohapatra, Jaya Mahesha. Madhusmita Mohanty presented an abhinaya
with perfection. Rosalin Srichandan and Trilochan Sahoo impressed with
their piece, Jaya Bhagavati Devi. The group session featured two
of Bhubaneswar's best dance troupes, Guru Durga Charan Ranbir's Nrutyayan
and Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra's Srijan, now under the direction of Guru
Ratikanta Mohapatra. Nrutyayan presented Surya, composed by Leena
Mohanty and Dasha Mahavidya, composed by Guru Durga Charan Ranbir.
Both the pieces were remarkable. Srijan presented Om followed by
Allah, both experimental choreographies of Guru Ratikanta Mohapatra.
The last day
of the festival (30th December 2007), started with an extremely interesting
and involving seminar on Odissi Mardala. The speakers were Guru Dhaneswar
Swain, Guru Satchidananda Das, Guru Niranjan Patra and Guru Kalandi Parida.
The dancers for the noon session were Gayatri Mishra, Suchismita Sahoo,
Subhalaxmi Padhi, Aurosmita Acharya and Dhairya Keshari Mohanty. Subhalaxmi
Padhi and Aurosmita Acharya showed great promise.
session started with vocal rendition by Binod Panda followed by Prof Mohini
Mohan Pattnaik's flute recital. The closing ceremony was conducted by the
Governor of Orissa, followed by dance recitals by Swayamprava Mishra, Raseswari
Mohanty, Amrita Patsani, Kaori Naka, Nirada Kumar Dehury, Amanda Geory,
Maria Laura Valder, Swapnarani Sinha, Nityananda Das, Aruna Mohanty, Kavita
Dwivedi, Ileana Citaristi and Snehaprava Samantray. This session presented
some of the crème de la crème of the Odissi fraternity. Starting
with renowned danseuse Aruna Mohanty's presentation of Bajuchi Sahi
Bajare, known for her involved abhinaya and amazing stamina, she outshone
her younger counterparts in tremendous body control. Kavita Dwivedi's rendition
was extremely involving and so was Ileana Citaristi's. Snehaprava Samantray
was remarkable in expressing the sensuality of Mother Matangi in Kalidasa's
Shyamala Dandakam that describes the Mother goddess, swaying like
a drunken elephant, with full breasts; "Matangi madashalini………….. kuchonnate
chandrakala vatamsa." The dancer who moved the audience to tears was
Nityananda Das, the one legged dancer, who has led a life of complete struggle
to be able to balance on one leg and perform a demanding dance form such
as Odissi. Swapnarani Sinha's Nava Rasa, captivated the audience
with her charming stage presence. Swayamprava Mishra, a child prodigy,
was at her best with her abhinaya presentation, Saja kanja nayana.
Amanda Geory and
Maria Laura, from USA and Peru respectively groomed at Srjan, showed complete
dedication to the dance form through their performances. It is amazing
to see dancers of non-Indian origin, practicing Indian forms with complete
austerity. The group presentations by the Odissi Research Centre and Orissa
Dance Academy, two elite organizations, gave outstanding performances.
was organized by the special efforts of the Dept of Culture, Govt of Orissa,
headed by Gopinath Mohanty, Commissioner, and Surya Narayan Patra, Minister,
Culture along with Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra Odissi Research Centre. It
was indeed a treat for connoisseurs and art lovers to be a part of the
festival. Observing the overwhelming response from the rasikas of Orissa,
the State Government decided to make this festival an annual event.
report has been jointly written by Rahul Acharya and Dr. Sangita Gosain.
She works as the Senior Executive at the Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra Odissi
Research Centre. Rahul Acharya is a known disciple of Guru Durga Charan