The Udayaraga Dance Festival in Bhubaneswar provides a platform to rising stars of Indian classical dance.
Just three years old, the annual Udayaraga dance festival hosted in Bhubaneswar by the well-known Orissa Dance Academy has come of age.
A brain-child of eminent Odissi dancer and Orissa Dance Academy's director Aruna Mohanty, the festival – aptly titled Udayaraga (rays of the rising sun) – attempts to discover and highlight the rising stars of Indian classical dances. The artiste is invited (and not asked to apply), offered the best of hospitality and also being paid a performance fee. And on the following morning of their performances, they get the opportunity to interact with their audience that comprised dance exponents, fellow dancers, critics and connoisseurs.
Keeping up with the impressive presentation of its two earlier editions, the recently concluded three-day festival was a treat for the performers and the audience as well.
While it was exclusive to Odissi dancers earlier, it was made open to the other Indian classical dance styles this year. Thus, nine dancers representing Bharatanatyam, Kathak, Odissi and Kuchipudi were presented this year.
Of the six Odissi dancers, three were from host Orissa Academy – Yudhisthir Nayak, Janhabi Behera and Pankaj Pradhan – who lived up to the legacy of the renowned dance institution – the biggest in the world today. Yudhisthir and Janhabi's repertoire - exhibited their maturity as professional dancers. And it was the very young Pankaj, who was a pleasant surprise with his dance of delight, perfection of techniques and intense involvement. Similarly captivating was Kolkata's Kaustavi Sarkar, the rising star dancer from Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra's famed Srjan Odissi institution, who is a dancer of unbound energy and intense involvement in dancing.
The two other dancers – Rashmi Raj, trained at late Protima Bedi's Nrityagram near Bengaluru and Mumbai's Namrata Gupta, disciple of Daksha Mashruwala – left their mark in their own characteristic way. Rashmi excels in executing the finest of postures and techniques while Namrata is gifted with natural grace.
Youngest of all participants, Kuchipudi dancer Prateekshya Kashi, daughter and disciple of celebrated Kuchipudi exponent Vyjayanti Kashi, is, arguably, a rising star in Kuchipudi scene today. The budding dancer has a spark in her that instantly arrests her viewers. And her presentation was no exception in Bhubaneswar. US-based Bharatanatyam dancer Kiran Rajgopalan, whose love and commitment for the dance style and India had brought him back to Chennai also was shinning on stage with his inherent grace. Tall and handsome, Kiran has grown up as a gifted male dancer and is winning appreciation through his performances across India thee days.
Kathak dancer Sanjukta Sarkar from Ahmedabad, disciple of living legend Kumudini Lakhia who was born and brought up in the heartland of Kathak in Lucknow, could be safely billed as the find of the festival this year.