Sujatha Mohapatra proves she is a complete dancer with her mesmerising presence and agility.
Radiant in a sunflower yellow and hot pink costume, Sujatha Mohapatra, disciple and daughter-in-law of the legendary guru, Kelucharan Mohapatra, one of the founding fathers of modern Odissi, proved yet again what a complete dancer she is. She has a mesmerising presence that does not allow you to take your eyes off her. If you watch her closely, you can see the energy, both physical and mental, that she invests into every movement, despite having performed them countless times before.
She presented, at the Music Academy, three guru Kelucharan choreographies - Mangalacharan with an invocation to Jaganatha and the Durga Sthuthi, showing both the goddess’ benign and aggressive forms in the latter (ragamalika, talamalika, Debashis Sarkar); the nritta-based Bilahari Pallavi in Ektaali (Bhubaneswar Mishra), and an Ashtapadi, ‘Kuru Yadunandana’ (Misra Kafi, Jati), where Radha playfully requests Krishna to set right her dishevelled state after their tryst.
The Pallavi began on a slow note, with the steps, the inflexions of the torso and the accompanying music and bols picking up gradually to fill the air with grace and beauty, and with the pakhawaj (Ekalabya Muduli) adding a unique rustic flavour to the melting pot.
A smiling Sujatha gracefully explored circular movements at different levels, while effortlessly maintaining fluidity in the neck, waist and knee movements to ensure a stable tribhanga posture, and striking a delicate balance between too little and too much. The dancer took every step to its logical conclusion conscientiously, with every stamp of the foot heard distinctly.
The agile dancer turned into a sensuous Radha making demands of Krishna shyly and boldly at the same time, and as she switched between an indulgent Krishna agreeing to comb her hair and line her eyes with kohl and a pleased Radha enjoying the attention, the finesse and sophistication in role play could be seen.
Dance dramas, whether group or solo, would be a natural extension for the Guru Kelucharan gharana, the guru having had a Ras-Leela dance-drama and a theatrical background. ‘Shabari,’ a solo dance-drama taken from Goswami Tulsidas’ ‘Ramcharithmanas,’ tuned by the melodic vocalist, Rupak Kumar Parida and choreographed by Ratikant Mohapatra, presented Rama’s meeting with an old woman-devotee Shabari, who had been waiting for him for many years. She serves him berries tasting each before offering, so as to give him the best. Rama tells her about nava-vidha bhakti, nine paths of devotion.Full of pathos
Sujatha’s portrayal of the innocent, old devotee was full of pathos. She welcomes him respectfully saying, ‘Muni ke bachana samujhee jiyan bhaye’ remembering Sage Matanga’s words to her. Rama blesses her tenderly and when the emotional visit is over she clings to his feet saying, ‘Hey Ram, Ram..’. Rama leaves and the devotee watches his feet walk away from her in silence ... Can you remain unmoved?
Sujatha’s other skilled accompanists were: Surmani Ramesh Chandra Das (violin), Srinibas Satpathy (flute) and Renjith Babu (manjira).