Soul-stirring music, a well-prepared orchestra and imaginative choreography by Sujata Mohapatra produced a mesmerising effect.
Like a sculpture come to life, Sujata Mohapatra's Odissi was full of grace, fluidity and perfect postures. From her slow, sensual entry in the Mangalacharan one could sense Sujata's skill and elegance. Within minutes one knew that this was going to be a treat.
This bright and vibrant dancer is incidentally a disciple and daughter-in-law of Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra, a legendary dancer-teacher who helped in the reconstruction of Odissi in the 1950s. Some of the maestro's choreographies were presented and one could see how timeless and tightly-knit they were as pure dance (Hamsadwani Pallavi, ‘Ektali’) or expressional ('Brajaku Chora Asichhi,' Misra Kafi) pieces.
Sujata was accompanied by her husband, a dancer, choreographer and percussionist in his own right, Ratikant Mohapatra. There was an elaborate group of musicians assisting them: Rupak Parida and Nazia Allam (vocal), Surmani Ramesh Chandra Das (violin), Jabahar Mishra (flute) and Eklavya (cymbals).
Beautiful music, a well-rehearsed orchestra, imaginative choreographies and a spring-footed dancer together produced a mesmerising effect. Dressed in a beautiful blue-green costume with an ink blue border, the dancer with a radiant smile danced with her eyes, body and feet. Striking a statuesque chauka or an alluring tribhanga stance, she took off from there with well-practised ease and elegance.
If the Pallavi brought forth Sujata's delightful nritta, the Yashoda-Krishna passage in which the mother tries to get the naughty child to sleep by scaring him with monster-tales, showcased the dancer's simple yet effective role play. Krishna falls asleep and the lights dim and just as the audience begins to applaud, the lights suddenly come back on with a frantic Yashoda asking people to be quiet! The surprise element was beautifully timed and choreographed.
A contemporary choreography, 'Barsa,' based on verses from the ‘Ritu Samhara’ relied on creating beautiful imagery through mood music (Raghunath Panigrahi), sumptuous lighting and imaginative choreography (Ratikant Mohapatra). The joy and devastation of the monsoons were captured well though one felt some tighter editing in the happy part might have helped.
The peacock rain dance was simply the best scene of the evening. Sujata wound up with another contemporary composition, a Tumri and Tarana combination (Bhairavi, Prerana Deshpande). Her effervescent nritta again overshadowed all else. Simple, down-to-earth dance will never go out of style.