The rich idiom of Odissi was brought to fore at Yathagamanam, a tribute to Kelucharan Mohapatra
It has to reach the highest expectation of the audience if it is a Srjan production. And Guru Ratikanth Mohapatra never lets you down. In the one-day fest ‘Yathagamanam’ dedicated to Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra, organised by Odissi Dance Centre and Ashwasan, we had a glimpse of the rich idiom of Odissi. Yet again, Ratikanth proved to be a chip of the old block!
The presentation marked by five choreographic ‘Master’ pieces gave us an insight into the aesthetics, artistry and attitude of this graceful art form that has captured the global world of dance. The ‘Samakaala’ was pure aesthetics blended to sheer music, sans vocal barring a sprinkle of syllabic utterances that lent a majestic charm to the presentation. It was labelled as fusion perhaps because it did not adhere rigidly to the classical repertoire, but Ratikanth transformed it into an exquisite piece of art. The group of dancers, converging on the stage in twos, fours, sixes and finally eight, moved like live sculptures executing the most complex footwork with effortless ease. Grace is the hallmark of Odissi and this was in abundance throughout the Srjan show, barring the ‘Pallabi’ in Hamsadhwani, a solo by Rajashri which was lacklustre despite being a very popular piece of the Kelucharan house. The ‘Bishwas’ (Faith) was another esoteric exposition which showcased secularism without being either didactic or controversial. The beauty and spirit underlying every religion across the world was brought out with a creativity and conviction that was visually stunning. Be it the Hindu invocation with a namaskar, an Islamic namaaz or a Sufi dervish at the culmination, the group picturised it with poignant precision and charming elegance as they undertook the alternating moves with apt footwork and abhinaya. Of special mention is the portrayal of Jesus Christ being dragged on the Cross - which was executed by a female dancer dragging the male dancer (Sanjay Kumar Behera) on her bent back in measured footwork in absolute adherence to the taal. It is not an exaggeration to state that no dance form could have carried a socio-religious theme with such artistic mastery.
The ‘Arthanareeswara’ was also an impressive choreography especially certain stances like the fusion of male and female principle in the form of Shiva and Shakti (bliss and energy). This particular piece, which used the Adi Sankara’s eulogy of ‘Arthanaareeswara’ could have been even more eloquent from a dance point of view if only two dancers could stage it instead of all the eight!
The ‘Geetramritam’ was handed over like nectar to the viewers, parched by the dry spell of summer. The unveiling of this began with elaborate invocation to the composer of Mahabharata, followed by that of lord Krishna, the Pandavas, etc. The first round is more of a run-up to the actual sermon of the Bhagawad Geeta which was presented by the group like a picture story book in motion. The second round has the topical circumstance leading to the Geeta sermon and here was this enchanting scene of all the dancers impersonating a chariot drawn by horses with Krishna at the reins and Arjuna seated while the wheels roll on to the stage. Mind you, the wheels were replicated by the young dancers squatting, perched on their toes that run like the wheels of a chariot! It was a superb show.
The Geeta exposition was a vivid scene where the dancers in garb of Arjuna and Krishna (both women in regular Odissi attire) vied with each other in mime to music and later vaachikabhinaya. The all-knowing Krishna’s persuasive power juxtaposing the initial inhibitions of the valiant Arjuna were brought out with utter clarity of thought and action. The recitation of the slokas pertaining to the very vital points of the Bhagawad Geeta and the mime therein moved the audience to an emotive plane. The finale was a culmination of the avatars of Mahavishnu the preserver, and lord Krishna the icon of Odissi dance form which was displayed with beautiful footwork patterns and hasthabhinaya. Kudos to Guru Ratikanth for such brilliant choreography. The costumes were designed with great care and thought and the lighting effects provided the much-needed aesthetic appeal to this wonderful evening of dance.