A balance of abhinaya and nritta
- Shveta Arora
e-mail: shwetananoop@gmail.com
Photos courtesy: Patitapawan Kala Niketan

August 10, 2015

Patitapawan Kala Niketan presented a shradhanjali utsav at the IHC in Delhi on the 13th and 14th of July as a tribute to Guru Debaprasad Das and Guru Pravash Kumar Mohanty. The lineup comprised well-known names in the Odissi circuit like Geeta Mahalik, Sangeeta Dash, Sangeeta Mohanty and Pitambar Biswal.

Geeta Mahalik

Sangeeta Dash

Pitambar Biswal

Dancers of Patitapawan Kala Niketan

Geeta Mahalik is a disciple of Debaprasad Das and Mayadhar Raut. Geeta’s first piece was based on a Swati Tirunal composition in Ragamalika, taal iktaali. It was an ode to Lord Rama, depicting instances from the Ramayana. She depicted the bringing back to life of Ahalya by breaking the spell with a touch of his feet. Rama was the one who broke the famous bow of Shiva. Next, it was the depiction of the kidnapping of Sita. While stringing flowers in the forest, she sees the golden deer. Attracted by it, she sends Lakshman to capture it, and is herself kidnapped by Ravana, who comes in disguise. She throws off her ornaments to leave a trail, and the monkeys build a bridge with rocks to reach Lanka. War ensues and Sita and Rama are back in Ayodhya, after an agnipariksha. She ended the piece with the four-armed stance of Lord Vishnu and Lord Padmanabha reclining on the snake. The characters of Sita, Rama, Lakshmana and Ravana were dramatized well. The movements of the monkeys building the bridge were especially evocative and skillfully portrayed. The second piece Geeta performed was in taal rupak, raag Bhimpalasi. It depicted the meeting of Radha and Krishna on the shores of the Yamuna.

Sangeeta Mohanty
Sangeeta Dash is trained under Guru Durga Charan Ranbir and Guru Debaprasad Das. She began her performance with a nritta piece, a pallavi in raag Anand Bhairavi, punctuated with flexible tribhanga, hand and feet movements and expressive eyes. The energy of the leaps and coverage of the stage were excellent. The abhinaya piece was an interesting composition where the sakhi is in a mischievous mood. She tells Radha not to respond to Krishna’s call and go to him. She tells her that “he steals our clothes while we are bathing and breaks our water pots.” She takes hold of Radha’s hand and takes her away with her. The beautiful abhinaya had Sangeeta portraying a mischievous sakhi, a naughty Krishna and a very confused Radha. “Guru Debaprasad had his own style of abhinaya. While I was learning this piece Na ja Jamuna from him, guruji passed away. After all these years, I thought of reviving it. We did the music first and then we did the choreography, so that we keep it as close as we can to what guruji taught us, but we did make some changes, and I tried to portray all the characters,” said Sangeeta.

Pitambar Biswal presented an abhinaya piece Kilo sajani. Radha is in acute pain of separation from Krishna. She is dressing up and adorning her room for the union, but when he does not turn up, in desperation, she scatters the flowers on the bed, opens her hair and is hit by the arrows of Kamadeva. The abhinaya was mature and demanding, but a bit more of movement could have made the piece more interesting.

The next piece Kaha lo duti was by Sangeeta Mohanty in raag Mishrakafi, taal rupak. Sangeeta’s movements showed a lot of flexibility and a perfect tribhanga. Radha, on hearing the flute of Krishna, gets attracted to him. In this piece, the nritta was almost perfect and the execution of the peacock dance was especially beautiful. The performance ended with a Suryashtakam, a group performance led by Sangeeta and Rajnikant Mohanty, with some skillful stances and formations depicting the emanation of the rays of the sun and the Sun God riding on his chariot with his horses. The nritta had some difficult leg lifts.

Shveta Arora is a blogger based in Delhi. She writes about cultural events in the capital.