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Prachi Hota's Odissi dance recital at New Delhi
- Dr. Bhabani Dikshit
Photo: Sanjit Debroy

July 19, 2018

The recent Odissi recital at India International Centre (IIC) on 8th July 2018 of Prachi Hota, a budding young artiste, presented some of the oldest compositions of the Odissi repertoire.

Prachi started training in Odissi at the age of three under Guru Arpita Venkatesh in Kolkata. After shifting to Delhi, she trained under Guru Hare Krishna Behera for nine years. Since her Guruji's demise, Prachi has been trained under Guru Y. Asha Kumari. She also receives guidance from Guru Aruna Mohanty and Madhusmita Mohanty at the Orissa Dance Academy. She is trained in sitar and Hindustani vocal music as well, and is a young and upcoming filmmaker with training from the London Film Academy and Prague Film School. She is also associated with Project Anjuman, as part of which a set of young and motivated artists conduct workshops in government schools across Delhi to help develop in students the 21st century skills of creativity, collaboration, communication and critical thinking.

In keeping with the conventions of Odissi, Prachi began her recital with Mangalacharan, seeking the blessings of the audience, her Guru and the almighty. Her Mangalacharan involved an invocation to Devi Matangi, one of the ten Mahavidyas or incarnations of the Mother Goddess, who is worshipped to achieve command over speech, creativity and knowledge. Matangi, the Tantrik Saraswati, epitomises the process of creation. The invocation, "Manikya Veena mupala layanti", written by Kalidasa and choreographed by Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra was performed with precision. She made her mark as a well trained dancer from the start of her show.

She then performed abhinaya Shyama Ku Juhara. Written by the Vaishnava poet Gopala Krishna Pattanaik and choreographed by Guru Hare Krishna Behera, it explicates the liminal space occupied by Krishna within Hindu mythology, where contradictions co-exist and neither order nor chaos is absolute, allowing one to find transcendence in this liminality. Prachi was able to effectively express the juxtaposition of his mischief, charm and divine glory in this abhinaya. The pure dance or nritta piece performed that evening was Raageshree Pallavi, choreographed by Guru Gangadhar Pradhan. Prachi displayed her technical virtuosity in this piece, and displayed command over laya and taal.

The second half of the evening's programme began with Shiva Panchaka, an excerpt from Adi Shankaracharya's Shiva Stotram. Prachi continued to display her understanding of technique and depicted the various facets of Lord Shiva convincingly, performing the Tandava, Kamadeva and Shiva's interaction, which ends with Kamadeva being burnt to ashes and several other episodes.

Prachi ended the recital with the Bhakti poet Vallabhacharya's Madhurashtakam which describes Krishna using the epithet “Madhura.” It begins with the physical aspects of beauty such as his lips - "Adharam Madhuram" and moves on to the more subliminal notions of beauty "Hridayam Madhuram" to convey that Krishna is the very definition of beauty, "Madhuradhipater Akhilam Madhuram." Prachi was able to depict a vast range of moods, effortlessly shifting in and out of various characters. She performed the Shanti Mantra in
continuation, ending the evening on a serene note.

Overall, the evening was a delightful one. Everything happened on time, Prachi's costumes, one white and one purple, complemented the choice of items beautifully, and the musicians consisting of Pradeep Moharana on the mardala, Gopinath Swain on the violin, Dhiraj Pandey playing the flute and Prashanta Behera providing vocal support was conducted by Prachi's Guru Asha Kumari, bolstering the performance wonderfully. The event left a deep impact on the audience.

Dr. Bhabani Dikshit is Managing Editor of World Focus, New Delhi.