With a number of new dance festivals being added to Bhubaneswar’s annual cultural calendar in recent years, the city has emerged as the country’s dance capital. And the recently launched International Dance Congress (IDC) was one such new addition.
Being the first edition of the event, the festival, hosted by Devdasi Nrutya Mandir, suffered from severe mismanagement as several artistes complained of poor planning, hospitality and audience turnout though they appreciated the idea behind the IDC to honour exponents, scholars and promoters of different dance forms on a single platform in a city that has little exposure to the Indian classical dance forms except Odissi.
The dance exponents who were honoured during the festival were Kalavati Devi (Manipuri), Uma Dogra (Kathak), Vedantam Ramalingam Sastry (Kuchipudi), Priyambada Mohanty-Hejmadi and Durga Charan Ranbir (Odissi), Girija Chandran (Mohiniattam), Sheela Unnikrishnan (Bharatanatyam), Kalamandalam T.S. Vasunni (Kathakali) and Anita Sharma (Sattriya).
Similarly, while celebrated dance historian and scholar Sunil Kothari was declared as the recipient of the IDC Nritya Vidwan Samman for his contribution to dance scholarship and Bhubaneswar-based and Italy-born Odissi dancer Ileana Citaristi was honoured for her commitment to Odissi and Indian culture, Visakhapatnam-based Bathina Vikram Goud who hosts a number of major dance festivals and Samar Sharma from Guwahati who is a patron to a number of dance events were also honoured for dance promoters.
The three-day festival that also included the sixth annual Naveen Kalakar festival for budding Odissi dancers being organised by the host of the IDC, witnessed some impressive solo, duet and group presentations in different dance styles.
Bharatanatyam dancer Ganna Smirnova from Ukraine, Manipuri dancer Warda Rihab from Bangladesh, Kathak dancer Anjali Gamage from Sri Lanka, Kuchipudi dancer Deepa Sasindran from Bengaluru, Odissi dancer Gayatri Chand from Bhubaneswar and Kathakali dancer Haripriya Nambudiri from Kerala were among the soloists who excelled. Of the group presentations, Chennai-based Sheela Unnikrishnan’s well-groomed disciples literally stormed the stage with a power-packed and amazingly synchronised team work.
Unlike its previous editions, the Naveen Kalakar festival of budding Odissi dancers — staged simultaneously at the same auditorium during the day time along with the IDC during the evenings — was a lacklustre affair this year with several poorly trained dancers. However, a few of them were promising. Ayushi Mishra from Dhenkanal, Rajalaxmi Buxi from Rourkela, Swastika Swagatika Mishra from Bhubaneswar and Simran Zaman from New Delhi were among these shining stars.
The festival, inaugurated by Assam Governor J.B. Patnaik, saw the closing ceremony graced by Odisha Governor M.C. Bhandare. The festival was dedicated to the memory of Odissi Guru Gangadhar Pradhan, the architect of the famed Konark and Dhauli dance festivals.