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Updated: March 19, 2010 15:04 IST

A distinct debut

SHYAMHARI CHAKRA
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Beena Keum, Odissi dancer from Korea.
Beena Keum, Odissi dancer from Korea.

Korean Odissi dancer and singer Beena Keum won hearts with an impressive performance.

Connoisseurs of Odissi dance and music had a pleasant surprise in Orissa's capital city recently as Korean Odissi dancer-singer-percussionist Beena Keum staged her manch pravesh (debut performance). The young artiste, who landed in the land of Odissi five years ago, has got an amazing grip over Odissi dance, Odissi vocal music and Odissi percussion instrument of mardal apart from Oriya language, culture and tradition.

While the tradition of having a manch pravesh is non-existent in Odissi dance, Beena invited all her gurus that included stalwarts like Gangadhar Pradhan (dance), Banamali Moharana (mardal) and Bijay Kumar Jena (vocal music) besides her family members from Korea to be a part of the sacred ceremony at Jayadev Bhawan at which Orissa Governor M.C. Bhandare was the special guest. She moved hearts by performing puja of her gurus, guests and parents and received their blessings in typical Indian tradition. She further touched all with her address to the audience in chaste Oriya.

A complete artiste in the making — she would be the first Odissi dancer to master its music and rhythm as a vocalist and percussionist — Beena began her concert with a popular Oriya song ki sobha go kunje madana mohan set to raga Anand Bhairavi that described the beauty of Krishna followed by a devotional number in praise of Lord Jagannath. It was amazing to see the artiste singing from her memory and not using the script. The melodious vocal recital with a stylized presentation was followed by a neat presentation of the adi taal on Odissi mardal.

Moving on, she commencing her dance recital with the traditional mangalacharan in which she aptly invoked the blessings of Saraswati, the goddess of arts, for a neat presentation. In an aesthetically crafted costume and elegant make up, the dancer of incredible beauty and grace made an arresting stage presence. Peerless were her portrayal of the movement of the swan on which Goddess Saraswati sits and the playing of the veena that the deity is identified with. Her next presentation — the pure dance number named as pallabi set to raga Rageshri failed to generate the desired impact for a slower tempo. However, her abhinaya (expressional dance) delineating the character of Radha's friend scolding Krishna for coming late to their place of secret union was captivating.

Beena's concluding recital was based on Buddhism that was quite closer to her heart as a student during her university days. The number — Shanti Vani — a prayer to Lord Buddha seeking peace on earth was a fitting finale to the carefully crafted concert.

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