Nilanjana Roy's Odissi performance left much to be desired.
US-based Odissi dancer Nilanjana Roy, a disciple of US-based Odissi dancer-teacher-choreographer Jyoti Rout, performed in Bhubaneshwar in an event organised by Jyoti Kala Mandir. The performance had a live orchestra featuring a band of gifted musicians while Jyoti conducted the concert herself by being on manjira. Jyoti tied the ghungroos (ankle bells) to her disciple on stage.
The performance of Nilanjana, however, was dull and disappointing. The dancer, in her early 30s, who learnt Kathak and Bharatanatyam earlier, had her first taste of Odissi training just four years ago. This was evident in her performance of imperfections. Obviously, she was not ready to perform in the land of Odissi where the best of Odissi is being practiced, presented and witnessed. Throughout the concert, the dancer could not exhibit a single sculpturesque posture that is generated by the perfect tribhanga (the three-bent body) — exclusive and most important to the Odissi technique. Further, her eye movements were almost non-existent while the facial expressions could have been more mature to communicate the emotions.
Good training apart, choreography matters much for the dancer to excel and impress. For Nilanjana's unimpressive concert, the unimaginative choreography of her guru — all her presentations were choreographed by Jyoti — was a major factor. The invocatory piece of mangalacharana — Krishnastakam — was replete with fast-paced pure dance and action-packed expressional dance sequences that overshadowed the devotional fervour of the number.
The next number, Megh Pallabi, based on the monsoon raag (that was re-named as Mudra Pallabi) lacked the rhythm and lyricism in the body of the dancer for which the monsoon-inspired pure dance number stands for.
The saving grace of the concert was, however, the abhinaya number set to a Tagore song — Biswa veenar chhande — that delineated the marvel of the nature. Having her background in Kathak, Nilanjana exhibited neat footwork in this number. However, the solo mardal recital by Sachidananda Das that followed was a distraction for which most of the audience left the auditorium and Nilanjana had to perform in an almost empty auditorium after the break. Ironically, the recital was the playing of recorded music of the mardal exponent who was present on stage but was not performing.
In her second and concluding spell, Nilanjana performed Durga Stotra, an expressional dance piece in praise of Goddess Durga and concluded with Mokshya, the concluding segment of the Odissi repertoire. Durga Stotra had an overdose of vigour — the Goddess was shown in an angry mood most of the times — and underplayed the grace and lasya of the mother goddess. And the mokshya piece was also a prayer for the same goddess and hence the mood was repetitive.