Dance Festival 2010
pics: Arabinda Mahapatra, Bhubaneswar
The Tourism Department's
(Govt. of Orissa) annual initiative in promoting Oriya culture, found expression
in the Mukteswar Dance Festival. Considered an important event in the calendar
of dance festivals of India, this annual classical program of three days
duration is held against the profoundly aesthetic and sculpture filled
Mukteswar temple, famous worldwide for its evocative dance poses so beautifully
hewn in stone. Being nationally telecast all over India on DD Bharati,
the illuminated façade of the Mukteswar temple brings home to a
great many television viewers, the artistic representation of Odissi dance
culture created in stone in timeless magnificence. A more appropriate,
aesthetic and emotive backdrop to a classical dance festival is difficult
to find. The Tourism Department’s annual effort is certainly praiseworthy.
14th to 16th January 2010, this three day festival began daily with an
invocation (Shiva vandana), since the Mukteswar temple is a Shiva temple.
The Shiva vandana was in the form of choral singing; created by reputed
Oriya music composers - Guru Ramahari Das, Shantanu Mahapatra and Lakshmikant
Palit respectively. The compositions and singing were of a high quality
and the distinctive touch given by each composer brought out the variety
and melodic excellence of each composition.
a total of nine dance performances in the festival, with a daily set-piece
of a solo, a duet and a group performance. Of the three solo items presented
in the festival, the dancing of Rajashri Praharaj (disciple of Guru Ratikant
Mohapatra) showed skill, stamina and grace in performing the Shiva Stutee.
The festival opened with the Shiva Stutee item; the salutations paid to
the three entities, Bhubaneswaraya Namah (in honour of the hoary temple
city of Bhubaneswar), Lingarajaya Namah (the famed Lingaraj temple of Bhubaneswar),
and Mukteswaraya Namah (the sacred venue of the dance festival itself)
- was a befitting way of starting the festival by emphasizing the sanctity
and spirituality of the dance, the temple premises, and the ambience.
In the second
item "Sri Ramachandra krupalu bhajamana," Rajashri displayed good capability
in abhinaya while depicting a variety of distinct characters in the "Sita
bibaha" episode. The skill of the dancer matched the high quality of the
choreography by Guru Ratikant Mohapatra and the pleasing music composition
by Pradip Kumar Das. The soloist for the second day, Sonali Mohapatra also
danced very well. Despite having a partial hearing handicap, Sonali executed
both her items Shivastaka and an Oriya abhinaya piece "Mohane deli chahin"
with finesse. The dancer showed great versatility; while the Shivastaka
was performed with the vigour required for an item on Lord Shiva, the abhinaya
piece was embellished by a softer tone of expression. Both the items were
choreographed by her Guru Durga Charan Ranbir and the music was composed
by Guru Ramahari Das. The third day’s solo item performed by Dipti Routray
was a standard presentation of three items. While the quality of dancing
was adequate, the expectations of the audience seemed to have been unfulfilled.
The first day’s
duet item was an outstanding performance by Saswati Garai and Ayona Bhaduri.
The dancers showed good preparation as well as considerable talent in executing
both the items Shiva Parvati Shabda and Meera Bhajan, which were choreographed
very well by their Guru Sharmila Biswas. However, the tempo of the first
item became sluggish; dance choreography needs to pay attention to this
element to prevent even the slightest feeling of monotony. The second item,
the familiar Meera Bhajan, connected well with the audience and received
good applause. The music for the two pieces was by Guru Ramahari Das and
Debashish Sarkar respectively.
The second day’s
duet by Meena Sahoo and Ipsita Behoora was an average performance which
showed inadequate preparation and failed to do justice to the good and
imaginative choreography of Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra (Nachanti range Srihari)
and Ratikant Mohapatra (Ganesh vandana). Both the dancers showed glimpses
of a potential which was not tapped by adequate preparation. The third
day's duet performed by Janhabi Behera and Biswajit Das, disciples of Guru
Aruna Mohanty gave mixed results. The male dancer Biswajit clearly overshadowed
his female counterpart by sharper movement, better coverage of the stage
and an all-round polished performance. The items presented were Ragesri
Pallavi and Chandana Charchita from Gita Govinda, both choreographed by
Guru Aruna Mohanty with music composed by Guru Ramahari Das and Dr. Subash
Garai and Ayona Bhaduri
Behera and Biswajit Das
The group dances
on all three days were at a satisfactory level of performance. Mention
however must be made of the second day’s choreography titled 'Nirvana'
by Guru Naba Mishra and the Abarta Group. A lot of thought seemed to have
been employed while choreographing this piece. The performances of Guru
Gajendra Panda and the Tridhara group on the first day and Jhelum Paranjape
and the Smitalay group on the final day did not live up to the considerable
reputation enjoyed by these two senior dancers / choreographers.
by Guru Naba Mishra and Abarta
the festival which had live music in accompaniment, there were a number
of memorable performances in music which gave excellent support to the
dancers. Noteworthy among them were the performances by Guru Ramahari Das
(vocal), Guru Dhaneswar Swain and Guru Ratikant Mohapatra (mardala) and
Aviram Nanda (flute). However, the lighting and sound reproduction were
of very poor quality and often marred the main performances.
Mahapatra is a career photo journalist. After an initial training with
the Eastern Press Agency, he worked for five years on the staff of the
major Oriya daily Dharitri. Since 2005 he has been working as a photo journalist
for the Hindustan Times, The Sunday Indian and the English daily The Pioneer.
His photographs and news stories have covered all the major events, in
the last decade, in Orissa and outlying areas of Eastern India.