May 7, 2009
Although Srjan was instrumental in organizing the two-day festival this year, the anniversary actually belonged to all the disciples, well-wishers and friends of Guruji as a special day, in memoriam. Conceived as an emotive and participatory event by Guruji's son and disciple, Ratikant Mohapatra, 'Samsmaranam' was held this year in Delhi at the beautiful and evocative surroundings of the Meghdoot Auditorium in collaboration with Sangeet Natak Akademi.
was inaugurated by Dr. Subas Pani, Member Secretary, Planning Commission,
Govt. of India and Jayant Kastuar, Secretary, Sangeet Natak Akademi. The
program opened with the invocation "Gurur bramha gurur Vishnu…" danced
by Kumkum Lal. When the dancer presented a floral offering to Guruji's
photograph, the audience was deeply moved by this soulful and emotive moment,
and brought back endearing memories to many present there. Kumkum Lal followed
this with a polished rendition of an Ashtapadi from Geeta Govinda, "Kuru
yadu nandana" which was a favourite of Guruji.
The next item
was Guru Ratikant Mohapatra's choreography of a pallavi in raga Charukeshi
set to the 9-matra and the music was composed by Rabi Shankar Pradhan.
In spite of the complex and difficult tala structure, Ratikant's choreography
moved fluently, the expressiveness of the movements in perfect harmony
with the exactitude of the tala progression. Rajashri Praharaj once again
demonstrated her outstanding talent and grace in bringing out the precision
and beauty of this lasya filled item. This young dancer has made remarkable
strides in the last few years and is certainly an artiste to look out for
in the future.
This was followed
by the immensely popular Oriya abhinaya "Ahe nila saila" (based on the
poem by the illustrious poet-devotee, Salabega). Ipsita Behoora did full
justice to the deeply devotional colour of the composition: her obvious
energy and vitality on the stage surprisingly meshed the devotional aspect
with appropriate execution. This is a well known choreography of Guru Kelucharan
Mohapatra with music by Pt. Bhubaneswar Mishra set to the 14 beat Jati
tala in raga Arabi. The next item "Brajaku chora asichhi," was yet another
endearing Oriya abhinaya performed by Sikata Das. This composition by Guruji
is redolent of the vatsalya rasa - the appealing playfulness of the child
Krishna and the timeless maternal instincts of his mother Yasoda. Sikata
Das brought out this particular aspect beautifully; the rich emotiveness
of the item was conveyed to the audience in a very easy and natural way
and highlighted the deeply moving ambience of the story. This choreography
of Guruji, had music by Pt. Bhubaneswar Mishra, in raga Ananda Bhairavi
and tala Jati. The subsequent item "Krushna Tandava" was performed by duo
Samir Kumar Behera and Panchanana Bhuyan. They succeeded in bringing out
the power and vigour of this unusual composition by Guruji. The musical
composition by Pt. Bhubaneswar Mishra in raga Aravi set to Ekatali, lifted
the subject to epic proportion and the dancers who were more than adequate
in presenting this item with the vitality that is an attractive asset of
the male dancer.
Next on stage was Sujata Mohapatra, a leading soloist of Odissi dance who rendered a new choreography by Guru Ratikant Mohapatra, titled "Varsha" and set to music by Pt. Raghunath Panigrahi. A powerful composition which dwells on the disastrous consequences of too much rain or too little, the choreography gave ample scope to the dancer to showcase her enviable skills as a complete artiste. The nritta aspect was flawlessly executed by Sujata as was expected of her: however, towards the end of the performance, the abhinaya aspect of the heart rending tragic denouement in the story, seemed to be slightly diluted, especially in view of the heightened emotion that the composition demanded.
item of the first day "Varsha" seemed, in a magical way to actually herald
thunder showers at the beginning of the second day's programme. The brisk
showers however failed to dampen the spirits of the audience. This
evening's program was inaugurated by Kapila Vatsayan, Member of Parliament
and Chairperson of Asia Project, IIC. Sonal Mansingh's performance added
richly to this emotive ambience. As one of the senior most disciples of
Guruji, Sonal Mansingh's rendition of her own composition 'Devi Stutee,'
at once powerful and filled with grace, showed why she occupies a stellar
position in the firmament among the Indian classical dancers.
senior disciple of Guruji, the celebrated Madhavi Mudgal lit up the stage
with an immaculate performance of the 'Hamsadhwani Pallavi.' Also immaculate
was her stage presence and her delicate artistry showed yet again, her
mastery of the difficult art of Odissi dance. Hamsadhwani Pallavi
is one of the earliest compositions of Guruji and music was set by Pt.
Bhubaneswar Mishra. Next came the turn of Guru Ratikant Mohapatra, son
and disciple of Guru Kelucharan, dancing to his own composition "Sri Ramachandra
krupalu bhajamana." Ratikant demonstrated the full extent of guruji's unique
style and flair for innovation. Especially appealing was the sanchari bhava
in the detailed composition of Sita Vivaha and Ratikant's obvious strength
in texturing the rhythm compositions. A distinct feature was the quick
change over from one character to another; this was seamlessly done and
elicited warm applause. Music by Pradip Kumar Das was set to ragamalika.
This was followed by a pleasing performance by Sharon Lowen. A senior disciple
of Guruji, Sharon gave a nuanced performance of "Dhira samire yamuna teere,"
an Ashtapadi from Jayadeva's Geeta Govinda. Her devotion to Odissi, her
experience and maturity and the sinuous grace of movement, all combined
to create a compelling stage presence. The choreography by Guru Kelucharan
to music by Pt. Bhubaneswar Mishra was in raga Mohana set to adi tala.
item of the 'Samsmaranam' festival turned out to be the grand finale presentation.
Titled 'Bhaja Govindam' from Adiguru Shankaracharya's composition, the
abstract philosophical subject has been choreographed to an intricate and
tightly woven composition by Guru Ratikant Mohapatra. This was an excellent
performance by the disciplined dancers of Srjan who handled this complex
subject with absolute felicity of synchronisation and a pleasing grasp
of the intricacies of the choreography. The continuous applause was well
deserved. The music composed by Lakshmikant Palit was of noticeable good
The two day
festival was enriched by live music led by quality musicians from Orissa
and Delhi. Mention must be made of outstanding mardala work by Guru Ratikant
Mohapatra and singing of admirable quality by the very young singer from
Orissa, Rupak Kumar Parida. Jaydev Das showed his expertise and long experience
in handling the lights. The two day festival was compered entirely by the
celebrated Sadhana Srivastav, whose fluent use of English language, precise
introductions and crispness of delivery added lustre to the 'Samsmaranam'
Kirti Dahale is a software and hardware engineer, and also a practitioner of Kathak dance.