Naman, the Odissi dance festival, was a visual treat
Naman – A Festival of Odissi Dance was organised recently in Bangalore by Madhulita Mohaptra’s Nrityantar Academy of Performing Arts with two solo performances and a duet.
Sonali Mohapatra from Bhubaneswar, dancing to recorded music, set proceedings in motion with obeisance to Lord Jagannatha and the Chakravaka Pallavi. The artiste executed gently unfolding sequences with understated grace and perfect synchronization, attesting to an unerring, internalized sense of rhythm. The pure dance piece also served to introduce the lyrical grace and beauty of the genre, progressively incorporating more complex and livelier permutations. The succeeding abhinaya piece based on Banamali Das’s verses and set to Mishra Pilu raga portrayed episodes from Krishna’s childhood. Puthana’s arrival and subsequent annihilation displayed a distinct flair for abhinaya, and the death throes were brief but graphic and eloquent. In contrast the infant Krishna’s antics were engaging, as was Yashoda’s indulgence tinged with exasperation.
Bijayini Satpathy of Nrityagram began her recital with ‘Srimathi’, an ode to womanhood, light hearted and energetic at first, more mature and subdued later. Set to lilting music incorporating swara passages, rhythmic syllables and instrumental interludes without lyrics, the item was imbued with alluring artistry, also evident in Jayadeva’s ‘Priye Charusheele’, which followed. Interpreted with an underlying tone of patient, smiling entreaty, the longing for union with the beloved implicit in the exquisite imagery of the lyrics, was conveyed in a compelling manner. The focal point of the recital was ‘Sita Harana’, based on extracts from Tulsidas’s ‘Ramcharit Manas’ delineating events leading to Sita’s abduction and ending with Jatayu’s encounter with Ravana. Donning multiple roles with consummate ease, the artiste brought depth and intensity to the portrayal, based on absolute mastery over the idiom, superb flexibility and litheness. Poignant moments such as Sita’s tirade against an anguished Lakshmana, dramatic ones such as Ravana’s entry with obvious evil intent, and subtle inflections such as the fleeting glimmer of suspicion on Sita’s face, and her final longing glance back at her abode before stepping over the forbidden line, indicative of faint premonitions of doom, made the compact presentation evocative and memorable. Outstanding support was provided by a live orchestra comprising accomplished musicians, including vocalist Jatin Kumar Sahu.
The concluding segment of the evening began with a solo by Pabitra Kumar Pradhan from Bhubaneswar. Salutations were offered, to recorded music, first to Lord Jagannatha, and then to the divine power manifest in the five elements, with the finely choreographed and presented ‘Panchabhuta’. The firmness of earth, the flow of water, the glow of fire, the surge of air and the vastness of sky were represented with refined elegance and felicitous footwork. The ashtapadi beginning ‘Radha Vadana Vilokana Vikasita’, punctuated with the refrain ‘Harim Eka Rasam’, was the basis of a duet performed with Sridutta Dhol, symbolizing the union of the jeevatma and the paramatma. Dancing at times in unison and at others in tandem, the duo complemented each other beautifully, especially in the statuesque poses. All the performances of the well organized festival were augmented by superb lighting.