Homage to the Adiguru of Odissi
- Shyamhari Chakra
November 6, 2015
Fond memories of Odissi dance exponent Pankaj Charan Das, who is often referred to as the "adiguru" of Odissi - as he was the guru of the gurus and founder fathers of Odissi like Kelucharan Mohapatra, Debaprasad Das and Mayadhar Raut – came alive through a two-day Odissi dance festival staged at Rabindra Mandap in Bhubaneswar recently by the late Guru’s grand-daughter and young Odissi dancer Pallavi Das. The event, named as Adiguru Pankaj Charan Das Award Festival and hosted by Guru Pankaj Udra Samskruti Academy of Bhubaneswar, invited dancers and choreographers of various styles of Odissi to offer their homage to the late legend through dance. It featured solo, duet and group presentations.
The festival aptly commenced with a solo recital by senior Guru Padma Charan Dehury who was a disciple of Guru Pankaj Charan Das. The dancer defied age and staged a graceful presentation of his own choreography - Om Namah Sivaya. Arati Kar, principal dancer at Bhubaneswar based Utkal Dance Research Academy, performed Shankarabharan Pallavi, a classic and much admired choreography of Guru Pankaj. She excelled in executing the complex footwork in this pure dance number. Young and acclaimed Rajashri Praharaj from Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra’s famed Srjan Odissi institute staged Barsha (rain) choreographed by her Guru Ratikant Mohapatra.
Similarly, soloist Munmun Chakraborty from Cuttack city performed Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra’s composition Bansi teji hela sankha chakra hasta he Jagannath, an expressional dance number while budding male dancer Dusmanta Kumar Swain, a graduate from the premiere Utkal Sangeet Mahavidyalaya, presented Guru Kelucharan’s composition Nachanti Range Srihari that depicts the joyful dancing of Lord Krishna.
Of the duet dance concerts staged during the two-day festival, Lingaraj Pradhan and Sanjukta Dutta Pradhan lived up to their reputation as fabulous couple dancers. Globe-trotter Lingaraj is an Ustad Bismillah Khan Award winner (national award for young dancers) and the lead male dancer of internationally acclaimed Rudrakshya Odissi Ensemble of Bhubaneswar while Sanjukta is the lead female dancer there. A real life couple, they made a captivating presentation of their Guru Bichitrananda Swain’s path-breaking choreography Bhavani Bhujanga Stotra that highlights yoga and tantra in Odissi. The other duet presentation was on the story of Charchika, the popular female deity of Odisha, made by Nrutyayan Odissi Institute.
All the three group presentations in the festival were brilliant and received rave response from the audience. Rosalin Mohapatra, a senior dance trainer from late Guru Gangadhar Pradhan’s famous Odisha Dance Academy, has emerged as a potential choreographer. She has also set up her own dance institute in Bhubaneswar – Debadasi – that staged her two refreshing compositions - Hindola Pallavi and Mohana Murati Chahnilo. Similarly, hearing-impaired young and acclaimed dancer Sonali Mohapatra, also an Utsad Bismillah Khan Award winner, proved her potential as a gifted choreographer. Her troupe Nrutya Upasana Pitha of Bhubaneswar, won hearts with presentation of Ganesh Vandana (choreographed by Sonali) followed by Suryastaka, a classic piece of choreography by her Guru Durga Charan Ranbir. The fitting finale to the festival came through a captivating concert by the dancers of Guru Niranjan Rout’s Nupur troupe of Bhubaneswar that presented Guru Niranjan’s composition Panchabhoota (fine elements).
Adiguru Pankaj Charan Das Lifetime Achievement Awards were conferred on veteran Odissi vocalist Guru Ghanashyam Panda for music while septuagenarian choreographer and lyricist Guru Gopikrushna Behera received it for his contribution to Odissi dance. It was heartening for the gathering to listen to them regarding their decades of artistic and personal association with Guru Pankaj Charan Das.
A former journalist with Indian Express and The Hindu for nearly 20 years in Odisha, Shyamhari Chakra is currently based in New Delhi as an independent writer on dance matters. He has been awarded the Senior National Fellowship by the Ministry of Culture to conduct research on Odissi dance.