Friday Review » Dance

Updated: September 24, 2010 18:20 IST

Breaking gender roles

Shyamhari Chakra
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Performance by dancer Amulya.
Performance by dancer Amulya.

Amulya Balabantary is making waves in the woman-dominated field of Odissi.

Once construed as a dance form made for the female, a bunch of budding and brilliant male Odissi dancers have been constantly breaking the myth today. And one of them is Amulya Balabantary.

Just 30 years old, Bhubaneswar-based Amulya has carved a niche for himself as a fabulous male Odissi dancer and teacher, making his presence felt in the international Odissi dance circuits. Groomed as a Gotipua dancer initially, he was trained in Odissi dance at Guru Gangadhar Pradhan's globally-known Orissa Dance Academy in Orissa's capital city of Bhubaneswar where he came under the tutelage of Gurus like Bichitrananda Swain, Aruna Mohanty and Manoranjan Pradhan. A Visharad from the Akhila Bharatiya Gandharva Mahavidyalaya Mandal, he is, at present, a senior repertoire and faculty member of Guru Bichitrananda Swain's internationally-acclaimed Rudrakshya Odissi Foundation in Bhubaneswar.

As a professional performer with Odissi's two best known troupes for over 15 years — the Orissa Dance Academy and the Rudrakshya Odissi Foundation — Amulya has performed in numerous festival and prestigious venues in India and abroad. The list includes International Odissi Dance Festivals held in the USA and India; Swarnotsav organized by the Sangeet Natak Akademi, New Delhi; Kalidas Samaroh, Ujjain; Jeevan Pani Memorial Festival, New Delhi; Konark Festival of Indian Classical Dances and Mukteswar Odissi Dance Festival - both hosted by the Government of Orissa; Uday Shankar Dance Festival, Kolkata; National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA), Mumbai; Kharavela National Arts festival, Bhubaneswar and many more. Endowed with an amazing body kinetic and grace, the gifted dancer has further performed in scores of festivals as a soloist — Ghungroo festival organized by Madhya Pradesh Government; Pragjyoti National Dance Festival, Guwahati; Indradhanush festival, New Delhi; Naman Festival, Bengaluru and Basant Utsav, Bhubaneswar to name a few. He has the distinction of performing as a soloist at the prestigious Wong Center, in the USA besides at the Lincoln Center and Alban Festival in New York.

“There was a time when male Odissi dancers were considered as mere teachers. But, it was my Guru Bichitrananda Swain who focused on purush ang in Odissi dance and specially choreographed numbers for male dancers that made all the difference to the fate of male Odissi dancers,”, acknowledges Amulya with gratitude who confides that he wishes to grow up both as a teacher and performer.

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