Festival of Odissi Dance & Music 2009 – Part 1
The National Festival
of Odissi Dance & Music 2009 took place from 26th - 30th December,
at Rabindra Mandap, Bhubaneswar.
For two reasons,
the initiative taken by Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra Odissi Research Centre
in mounting the National Festival of Odissi Dance and Music 2009, is an
important one. First, it provides a much-needed opportunity for a varied
age group of Odissi dancers and musicians to perform and interact.
Second, the audience to this kind of five-day festival has been an educated
and discerning one, with a good attendance of people directly involved
in the teaching and propagation of classical Odissi dance and music, such
as Gurus, performers/teachers as well as students of dance and music. I
wish to record my thanks to the Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra Odissi Research
Centre for having invited me to be one of the three observers for the duration
of the festival. It is my intention to be candid and objective in my comments,
with the hope that my observations can lead to some analysis which can
further develop this very essential platform for Odissi dancers and musicians.
The daily evening
schedule of performances began by three music performances followed by
dance performances consisting of two solos, one duet, a solo performance
by an invited artiste and finally a group dance. The inherent weakness
of this kind of programme structuring is that the concluding programme
of the evening gets delayed, suffers from a rapidly depleting audience
and tells on the patience of the dancers who have waited from the early
hours of the evening with make-up etc.
three reasons for this.
- The evening
programmes never started on time since either the guests of honour were
rarely punctual or a large section of the audience was late in arriving.
- The opening
performances slotted for three music programmes invariably went much beyond
the allotted time, thereby throwing the time schedule for the dance performances
entirely out of gear. There seemed to be no organizational control on the
extra time consumed by the initial music performances, thus leading to
very thin audience for the concluding part of the evening. Some of the
dancers also compounded the problem by going beyond their allotted time
- There were
added disruptions caused by the staff responsible for the stage management
at Rabindra Mandap. On some occasions, there was nobody to draw the stage
curtain on time; at other times, the staff was not immediately available
to remove the stage prop, and this led to unnecessary delay and tension
for the following item. For example on the opening day itself there was
an approximate 8 minute delay in drawing the curtain during the transition
between the 3rd musical programme and starting of the first dance item.
The only way to overcome this problem is to a) start the programme
punctually on time without waiting unduly long for delayed invitees and
b) to have strict guidelines as to the duration of each performance
and impress upon the artistes, beforehand, that they must not exceed the
time given to them. This will streamline the daily schedule of the festival
and lessen the frustration of the artistes who are performing towards the
end of the evening. c) The concerned staff dealing with the stage
must be properly disciplined; this is a national level cultural event and
its importance must not be sullied by the inattentiveness of a few people
in charge of managing the venue. I would like to emphasize here that, conversely,
the sound and light management were very satisfactory.
I would like
to state that the morning sessions on four days of the festival were conducted
smoothly. Since there was a need to accommodate a large number of dancers,
the morning sessions provided a good alternative platform and along with
the seminars, fulfilled a useful purpose. However I wish that there was
a bigger audience of dance students, artistes, Gurus and culture minded
citizens for the morning sessions, since the performers themselves were
young and enthusiastic and deserved a larger audience.
was inaugurated on 26th December 2009 evening at Rabindra Mandap, by Sri
Debiprasad Mishra, Hon'ble Minister, Culture and Higher Education, Orissa,
in the presence of Dr. Mona Sharma, Commissioner-cum-Secretary (Culture
and Tourism, Orissa) and Sri Rabindra Nath Kar, Addl. Secretary and Director
(Culture, Orissa). The host institution GKCM ORC was represented by Sangita
Gosain and Dipti Mishra. A significant treatise containing a number of
musical notations of Pt. Bhubaneswar Mishra, penned in his own hand, was
released in a book form on this occasion. The compilation work of the text
of this important book has been prepared by Sangita Gosain and this book
is expected to serve as an authentic document of Pt. Bhubaneswar Mishra's
landmark compositions: its utility to musicologists as well as dance music
composers is bound to be immense. The book goes by the title of 'Pallavi.'
Baitharu & Nalini Kanta Patnaik
As a senior
and experienced vocalist, who has worked with the likes of Guru Kelucharan
Mohapatra and Pt. Bhubaneshwar Mishra, Rakhal Chandra Mohanty was an obvious
choice to sing at the opening of the inaugural evening's programme. However
his performance fell short of his own high standards and the standards
expected of a National Festival. Possibly due to advanced age or some other
factor, Sri Mohanty failed, on number of occasions, to sing perfectly in
key. The absence of his normal tunefulness was rather disappointing. He
sang an Oriya song ("Kuhu kuhu ke bole" in Raga Basanta) and an
ashtapadi from Gita Gobinda ("Dhira Sameere Yamuna teere" in Raga
Kalyan). The next item was an Odissi song ("Ago ghana kuntala kahinki
kara go hela" in Raga Ragesri) by Mahapatra Minati Bhanja. It was a
competent performance but due to few slips in key, the singing did not
reach the level of excellence normally expected of her. The final item
in the music section was a vocal duet sung by Sarbeswar Baitharu and
Nalini Kanta Patnaik. The rendering of the songs "Pheri pheri ana"
in Raga Chandrakanta and a "Pallavi" in Raga Bhairabi was excellent,
and this performance went some way in compensating for the lacunae of the
In the opening
item of the dance section, Pranati Mohanty gave a subtle, dignified and
composed recital in Odissi dance to the song "Priye Charushile"
in Raga Gurjari Todi from an ashtapadi in Gita Gobinda, choreographed by
Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra and music by Pt. Bhubaneswar Mishra. This senior
artiste did full justice to the beauty of this old and classic composition
in Odissi. The next item was by Moumita Ghosh, who gave a competent performance
of a "Pallavi" in Raga Khamaj, choreographed by Guru Kelucharan
Mohapatra and with music by Pt. Bhubaneswar Mishra. The third item was
a duet by Sarita Mishra and Mamata Das. This performance was very well
received by the audience and stood out for a skilful combination of both
subtlety and brightness in pleasing proportions. This abhinaya was danced
to an Oriya song "Mohana Murati Chhai Lo", choreographed by Guru
Bichitrananda Swain and music by Sangita Gosain. This was followed by two
pieces of abhinaya performed by the highly acclaimed veteran Kumkum
Mohanty and it was a pleasure to see her on stage since her performances
have become rare in Bhubaneswar. Her dancing was evocative of the style
of her Gharana and though the abhinaya was in her usual heavily expressive
manner, her excellence in portrayal, her use of the stage and the vigour
of movement was surprising for an artiste who is so advanced in years.
Truly a memorable performance. The abhinaya pieces were danced to two Oriya
songs- "Are babu Shyamaghana tu gale madhubhubana" in Raga Pancham
Baradi and "Laje mu gali sari aja" in Raga Khamaj. Both the abhinaya
pieces were choreographed by Kumkum Mohanty and while the first was set
to traditional music, the second was tuned by Guru Harmohan Khuntia and
is an adaptation of the original tune of Pt. Balakrushna Das. The concluding
item was by Sharmila Biswas and group. The two innovative presentations
in Odissi style ("Katha Surpanakha" and "Abartana Bibartana")
were rendered very well with every member of the group putting up a quality
performance and managing the interchanging of the roles flawlessly. The
music for "Katha Surpanekha" was composed by Prafulla Kar with Guru
Dhaneswar Swain as rhythm composer, and was a comfortable blend of traditional
and modern styles which supported the dance as a perfect match. The music
and rhythm for the second piece were composed by Guru Ramahari Das and
Guru Dhaneswar Swain respectively and was an example of quality music and
rhythm enhancing the choreographer's work. Both these dance items were
choreographed by Sharmila Biswas.
Mishra & Mamata Das
On 27th December
2009, the seminar on Odissi music which was supposed to start at 10am suffered
a delay. Held at the same venue, the seminar was well attended by number
of singers, musicians, dancers, students, Gurus - their presence and active
participation did justice to the subject of the seminar "basic features
in Odissi vocal rendering." Informative papers on the subject were presented
by Guru Ramahari Das and Kirtan Narayan Padhi. Of the four dancers slotted
to perform after the seminar, one (Priya Singh, Mumbai) was absent. Mani
Behera danced to Oriya song "Radharani sange nache Murali pani"
in Raga Bakulabharana, Mithilesh Patnaik danced to "Ganesh vandana"
in Raga Bajrakanti and the concluding performance was by Sangya Sucharita
who danced the Devi Stutee to "Dhyaye subarna barna." All the dancers
met the expected standards of performance. In the case of Mithilesh Patnaik
who is challenged by Autism, it was obvious that a tremendous effort has
been made by the dancer to reach this level of competence; also obvious
was the feeling that he will strive even harder in future. For me, this
was an inspirational experience.
The opening of
the evening's programme was graced by the presence of Guru Banamali Maharana,
Suchitra Mahapatra and Bhabani Prasad Ray, Dy. Secy. Culture, Orissa. The
opening item was percussion group playing the Mardala in Adi Tala and performed
by the well-known Mardala Academy. The performance certainly did not live
up to the reputation of the Mardala Academy and seemed hardly rehearsed.
There was surprising lack of syncronisation and for an institution which
is trying hard to promote this Odissi instrument, its own performance at
this National Festival was disappointing. While the item composition bore
the expert stamp of Guru Banamali Maharana and the able assistance of Gurus
Dhaneswar Swain and Satchidananda Das, the players themselves seemed quite
unable to engage with the level of competence expected of an academy whose
sole focus is the Mardala. The performers were Surendra Maharana, Manoranjan
Mohanty, Manas Sarangi, Dibakar Parida, Niranjana Sahoo and Bijay Kumar
Barik. The next item was rendering of two songs in Oriya by the well known
senior artiste Lata Ghosh. While her performance was by and large satisfactory,
the harshness and loudness of the Mardala accompaniment by Kalandi Charan
Parida at times overpowered the singing, thus disturbing what otherwise
could have been a competent performance. The songs rendered were "Kahibu
jai Shyama bandhunku" in Raga Bakula Bharana and "Sate ki bhangi
kala Banke chanhila" in Raga Mishra Jhinjhoti. The music for the first
was composed by Pt. Bhubaneswar Mishra and the music for the second was
composed by Harmohan Khuntia. Far exceeding the time allotted was
a glaring lapse by Lata Ghosh which affected the subsequent programme.
Next came a pleasing and moving group performance by Gopal Das Smaraki
Kala Kendra, Nasipur, Kendrapara who sang the familiar Oriya song "Kadamba
bane banshi bajila" in Raga Kalabati. The group members achieved commendable
harmony and seemed to have been well trained for the purpose. The song
was conducted by Sushanta Kumar Pani.
Das Smaraki Kala Mandir group
The dance section
of the evening programme was initiated by Leesa Mohanty who performed three
items competently, though she was also responsible for going beyond the
time limit. She performed an invocation to Lord Krishna in Raga Kalyan
and Jana Sammohini: her second and third items were a "Pallavi"
in Raga Kedar Kamodi and a dance composed to an Oriya song "Munha muhin
Kishora" in Raga Bagesri. The first two items were choreographed by
Durga Charan Ranbir and the third item was a choreography by late Guru
Debaprasad Das. The musical compositions were by Sudhakar Samal and
Guru Ramahari Das respectively while the third item was set to a traditional
tune. The next item was by Niharika Mohanty from USA. Her presentation
of a "Pallavi" in Raga Bihag was carefully executed and pleasing
to watch. It is obvious that very good preparation has gone into her performance,
and specially noteworthy was a fact that all the nuances were apt and in
the right places. For somebody living in distant USA, her having kept in
close touch with the style, and sincerity in practice, is commendable.
The item was choreographed by Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra and music by Pt.
Bhubaneswar Mishra. The next item, a duet by Anindita Parida and Minati
Mohapatra consisted of two pieces – a "Pallavi" in Raga Belabali
and an abhinaya based on a traditional Oriya song blended with elements
of Raga Khamaj "Kahin gale murali phunka." Although the performance
was correct in all aspects, there was a certain lack of maturity possibly
due to the very young age of the performers. Given the technical correctness
of the performance, the future seems bright for these two young dancers.
Music for the Pallavi was by Lakshmikant Palit, and choreography for both
the items was by Dr. Ileana Citaristi. The following item was in two pieces
performed by Aloka Kanungo. She performed a "Pallavi" in Raga Kamodi
and an abhinaya based on the theme "Maha Vidya" in Ragamalika. While
her performance displayed the perfection natural to a highly experienced
and senior artiste, the dancing can be best described as "adequate." Missing
were the flashes of brilliance normally associated with her. Both the pieces
were choreographed by Aloka Kanungo and the music was composed by Guru
Ramahari Das. The concluding item was a group dance performed by Guru Gajendra
Panda and members of the Tridhara institution who performed "Dasavtar."
While the music composition by Guru Gopal Chandra Panda was of superior
quality and pleasing to the ears, the dancing left much to be desired!
Though Guru Gajendra Panda's performance was good, the rest of the dancers
showed woeful unpreparedness for a performance of the level of a National
Festival. Some dancers kept ramming into each other and their lack of expertise
was highlighted against the very satisfactory performance of their Guru
Gajendra Panda, who had also choreographed the piece.
Parida & Minati Mohapatra
Panda & group
The morning session
of the 28th December 2009 was inaugurated by Guru Ramahari Das. The opening
item of the morning session was a performance titled "Panchabhuta"
by Vani Madhav. It was a good performance and it showed that she has kept
in practice over the years and maintained a close touch with the classical
form, in spite of being absent from Orissa for so long. The item's choreography
was by Guru Sudhakar Sahoo and the music was set by Guru Ramahari Das.
The next item, the very popular "Ahe Neela Shaila" was performed
by Arpita Swain. Overall it was a good performance but there is one aspect
which she needs to look at carefully. The transitional passage between
the end of one movement and the beginning of the next was not clean and
clear cut, thereby affecting the polish of an otherwise good performance.
It was choreographed by Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra and the music was adapted
from a traditional tune by Pt. Bhubaneswar Mishra. Arpita performed to
recorded music. The subsequent item was danced by Isha Satapathy, and what
could have been a standard performance was diminished in the second half
of the Pallavi (in Raga Bilahari) by a noticeable shortness of breath.
For such a young dancer, this lack of stamina gave an unpleasant surprise.
I am a little disappointed since, in the past I have seen a number of good
performances by her. The item was choreographed by Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra
and the music was composed by Pt. Bhubaneswar Mishra.
The next item
was performed by Manasi Pandya and was the "Nabadurga" which is
a popular item in Odissi. The performance was a good one but could have
been excellent had there been a more fulsome expression of "bhakti bhava."
However, for someone who lives away from Orissa, her performance showed
evidence of good practice, preparation and commitment. The item was choreographed
by Guru Pankaj Charan Das and the music was composed by Sri Harihara Panda.
The following item was a composition titled "Dhyaye subarna barna"
and danced by Prashant Behera. It was a satisfying and complete performance
by this young male dancer and the future looks very promising for him if
he can maintain this level of performance. The choreography was by Guru
Gangadhar Pradhan (assisted by Aruna Mohanty) and the music was composed
by Guru Gopal Chandra Panda. The next item "Nabadurga" was performed
well by experienced dancer Sayomita Dasgupta. In her performance she brought
out the persona of Goddess Durga very well and all aspects of her performance
were pleasing. The choreography was by Guru Ratikant Mohapatra and the
music was composed by Sri Harihara Panda. The concluding item of
the morning session was a set of two pieces performed by Jyoti Rout and
group. The first was a "Pallavi" in Raga Abhogi. The choreography
could have been conceived better, since the design of the movements appear
to follow a stereotype and greater imagination in planning the movements
would have certainly lifted the item to a higher level. Although the dancers
were a talented group, what seemed to be lacking was adequate practice
and the kind of preparation that an Odissi Pallavi requires. The
second item was an abhinaya based on the classical Bhima Bhoi poem "Iha
janmara nama bramhe majja dhire." The musical composition for this
piece was excellent and had a distinct Oriya flavor to it. The combination
of "Khanjani" and "Mardala" produced a very interesting and unusual
sound, and the synthesis of all the musical elements was praiseworthy.
Both the items were choreographed by Jyoti Rout who also performed with
her group in a satisfactory manner. The music for both the items was composed
by Sarat Kumar Sahoo.
Rout & group
session was inaugurated by Sri Prafulla Mohanty and Guru Dhaneswar Swain.
The opening item was a vocal recital by Sukanta Kumar Kundu who rendered
two songs titled "Jibu nahin sajani kunja banaku ekaa" (written
by poet Benudhara) in Raga Kirwani and an ashtapadi "Pashyati dishi
dishi" (poet Jaydev) in Raga Bhairavi. Since we are used to hearing
him as an Odissi accompanist, it was a pleasant change to hear him singing
solo. As expected, it was a standard performance which could have graduated
to an excellent one had the singer delivered the gamaks more fluently.
While the preparation seemed good, the actual performance fell somewhat
short of expectation. The next item was a flute recital by Aviram Nanda
who rendered two pieces titled "Sajani ki laje sarili" in Raga Bagesri
and "Mana Sumana" in Raga Mishra Khamaj. It was an excellent performance
and the accompanying instruments blended well with the main instrument.
It was evident that the training he has received under Prof. Mohini Mohan
Patnaik and Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia has honed him into a complete musician.
The following item was a duet by Rashmita Mohanty and Pipsita Mahapatra.
They sang "Jaha dekhili go ma" and "Sakhire mora kunjaku".
The music for these two songs was composed by Guru Balakrushna Das and
Guru Ramahari Das respectively. It was a good performance and each singer
complemented the other well.
Mohanty and Pipsita Mahapatra
& Puja Jena
item of the dance section was the "Ardhanarishwara" by Bijay Kumar
Sahoo. While the dancing was by and large competent, the exaggerated opening
of the dancer's chest disturbed the aesthetic quality of the dancer's body-line.
Since the "Ardhanarishwara" subject packs a lot of power and depth,
the dancer should take care not to over-dramatise body movements. The choreography
was by Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra and the music was composed by Pt. Raghunath
Panigrahi. The next item, titled "Shivastaka," a beautiful composition
by Guru Pankaj Charan Das was performed by Roopashree Mohapatra. Indifferent
preparation and lack of practice was evident in this dancer's performance,
which failed to bring out the beauty of her Guru's fine choreography. Much
more grace and fluidity of movement was expected of a dancer of her seniority.
The following item was a dance duet presented by Simasurajita and Puja
Panda. They performed an abhinaya based on an ashtapadi ("Hari iha mugdha
badhu nikare" in Raga Mishra Khamaj) from Gita Govinda. There was charm
in their performance and the duo though very young in age, danced with
a confidence that comes from good practice and preparation. Truly a successful
stage presentation. The choreography was by Guru Aruna Mohanty and the
music was composed by Dr. Subash Pani.
The next item
was an excellent performance by senior dancer and Guru Naba Mishra who
performed the "Kaibarta Prasanga," a well known episode from poet Upendra
Bhanja's memorable work "Baidehisha Bilasa." It was easily the highlight
of the day's performances; the combination of talent, skill and good preparation
supported by very good music, made it an exceptional and memorable presentation.
The dance was choreographed by Guru Naba Mishra himself and while the tune
of the song was composed by the dancer himself, the prelude and interludes
were provided by Surmani Ramesh Chandra Das. The concluding item was a
group presentation of three pieces by Kasturi Patnaik and the Sankalpa
group. The three items "Hamsadhwani Pallavi," "Jaya Bhagabati devi namo
barade" and "Nirvana" were choreographed by Kasturi Patnaik who also danced
with her group. A lacklustre performance not expected of an artiste of
her seniority. There was a general absence of synchronisation which revealed
a lack of serious preparation for an event of the stature of a National
Festival. The music for all three items were composed by Kasturi Patnaik.
Festival of Odissi Dance & Music 2009 – Part 2
Mohapatra is the Director of Srjan (Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra Odissi Nrityabasa)