The Mukteswar dance festival is attracting global attention because of its ambience and impressive performances.
Billed as the Odissi dancers' ultimate dream destination, the Mukteswar dance festival being mounted in Orissa's capital city of Bhubaneswar in January every year by Orissa Tourism of the Government of Orissa is also a much-awaited annual affair for connoisseurs the world over as it reaches out to them through live telecast and web-cast.
Mounted on an aesthetically erected open-air stage on sprawling lawns of the tenth century Mukteswar temple — the stunning stone arch of this architectural marvel serving as an apt backdrop — each evening of the festival showcases solo, duet and group presentations by artistes and troupes from around the globe. Since live orchestra is a must for all dance recitals in this festival, the audience also enjoys watching them perform along with the dancers. Adding a devotional fervour, the daily dance recitals are preceded by a choral concert in Odissi music in praise of Lord Shiva, the presiding deity of the temple.
The festival this year featured three soloists — Aloka Kanungo, Kolkata-based senior dancer; Madhusmita Mohanty and Rahul Acharya, both Bhubaneswar-based young and acclaimed artistes who have been recipients of the prestigious Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Prativa Puraskar from the Central Sangeet Natak Akademi. Disciple of three eminent gurus, Raghunath Dutta, Mayadhar Raut and Kelucharan Mohapatra, Aloka performed her own choreographic compositions that included a pure dance number set to raag Kamodi followed by an expression-laden dance number depicting the childhood pranks of Lord Krishna.
Rahul, disciple of Durga Charan Ranbir in the distinct guru Debaprasad Das style of Odissi and the most popular young male Odissi dancer today, lived up to his reputation as he performed Harihara dhyana as the invocatory mangalacharan followed by a pallabi set to raag Maru Bihar and an abhinaya, Mina Nayana.
Madhusmita's solo recital was marked by grace and an amazing angasuddhi coupled with a rare degree of intensity as she performed the story of Sita Bhumisuta-daughter of the earthfrom The Ramayana, preceded by Haragouryastakam in praise of Shiva and Parvati. She performed compositions of both of her gurus Bichitrananda Swain and Aruna Mohanty.
Interestingly, the duet dance segment had two recitals by dancers from the same families — father-daughter duo Chittaranjan Acharya-Asmita from Bhubaneswar and sister-brother duo Ellora-Devraj Pattnaik from Canada. The other pair was Arupa Gayatri Panda and Pravat Kumar Swain, both brilliant young dancers from the famed Orissa Dance Academy, Bhubaneswar who proved their potential and proper grooming under their guru Aruna Mohanty.