Profile Birabara Sahoo stays committed to promote this art form.
If Odisha’s captivating dance form of Gotipua is going global gradually, arresting the attention of the dancers and dance lovers, much credit goes to the vision of its pioneer Guru Birabara Sahoo, the only exponent of the centuries-old tradition to be decorated with the coveted Sangeet Natak Akademi award. The octogenarian guru, now based in Bhubaneswar is guiding the project of the government to develop a definite syllabus of the dance form. He was born in Indolkusiari village of Khurda district and was naturally drawn towards music and dance from his early childhood. “When I was just five-years-old, I joined the traditional keertan troupe of our village and continued to perform almost every evening as per the village tradition,” he recollects.During this period, he attended the village chatsali (the privately managed primary school) where he was exposed to the traditional literary works of ancient and medieval poets of Odisha in addition to the rich Indian mythology. It enriched his knowledge and imagination that helped him to contribute substantially to choreography as a guru later on. A couple of years later, Birabara, the boy passionate about music and dance, was admitted to the Gotipua training centre at the nearby Darada village where he was trained by well-known exponents of the times. His grace and spontaneity in performances instantly impressed the audience.
He had the unique distinction of performing continuously for 10 years in the annual Gotipua festivals hosted in Puri by the Jagannath Ballav mutt during those years. Growing up, the popular Gotipua dancer graduated to a popular Gotipua trainer. He served various Gotipua troupes and training centres as a guru in great demand. Guru Birabara has been honoured with the Odisha State Sangeet Natak Akademi award in 1997 followed by the Central Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (2009) and the Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra Award for contribution to dance recently.