Sujata’s poetic nritta and emotive prowess left the audience mesmerised.
Sujata Mohapatra, disciple and daughter of the one of the revivalists of the Odissi classical style, Kelucharan Mohapatra, represented everything that is classical and timeless in the Odissi tradition with a repertoire consisting of Guruji’s choreographies. She breathed new life into them with childlike-enthusiasm as she revelled in its sensuousness.
Sujata had something for everyone that evening at The Music Academy -- nritta (Keeravani pallavi, Khempta, choreography-Kelucharan Mohapatra, music-Bhubaneswar Mishra), abhinaya at its purest in the Jayadeva Ashtapadi (‘Sakhi He,’ Pahari, choreography-Kelucharan Mohapatra, music-Bhubaneswar Mishra) and a solo dance drama, an ekaharya lasyanga of Sita Haran and Jatayu Moksha from the Ramayana, written by Kavi Samrat Upendra Bhanja, choreographed and composed by the same stalwarts.
Sujata’s nritta is poetic. As the dancer walked slowly across the stage to the 4 beat-eka tali in the Vishnu Vandana (Gurjari Thodi, Ratikant Mohapatra), one was struck by the fluidity of her movement, though every step forward with the body in the tribhanga position is an elaborate exercise involving three bends -- the turned heel initiating the torso and neck movement and the bent knee emphasising the sculpture-like stance.
Emotions at play
But the evening belonged to Sujata’s emotive prowess, with which she mesmerised the audience. Radha longs for Krishna and describes their first tryst to her friend in the Ashtapadi, recounting the way she slunk out of her home -- removing her anklets and extinguishing the lamp to make sure she was not seen.
The musicians came into their own in this piece, and along with the elaborate LED lighting (Jayadev Das), the scene came alive... The stage went dark the moment Sujata extinguished the lamp, and when she stepped out, she was bathed in blue moonlight.
The half-hour Ramayana, taken from the time Rama, Sita and Lakshmana are in exile until the vulture-devotee Jatayu’s moksha, was pictured with kaleidoscope imagery of a bewitching doe-eyed deer Mareecha, an evil Ravana retaining the glint in his eyes while pretending to do bhajan in sanyasi garb, Sita’s cries for help as she is carried away across the sky, a mutilated Jatayu telling Rama about Sita’s whereabouts as he is dying and Rama’s ultimate compassion in giving him moksha. No wonder the applause was prolonged and followed by a standing ovation!
The music was inspiring, especially in the Ramayana extract where the detailing was minute. The violin (Suramani Ramesh Chandra Das) was used not only for melody but for sound effects as well. The other musicians were: Satyabrata Katha (vocal), Soumya Ranjan Joshi (flute), Ekalabya Muduli (mardala) and Renjith Babu (manjira).