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Challenging the odds

SHYAMAHARI CHAKRA
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In focus For Sonali Mohapatra, there are no limitations to achieve success. SHYAMAHARI CHAKRA

Sonali Mohapatra
Sonali Mohapatra

At the recently-concluded international Odissi dance festival in Bhubaneswar, she moved the global audience into tears with her amazing articulation of the character of love-lorn Radha. And she later hooked them to their chairs with her captivating pure dance number laced with grace and sculpturesque postures. However, little did they realise then that the dancer was neither able to hear the sound of her own ghungroos, nor the recurring rounds of applause of the audience.

She was hearing-impaired Odissi dancer Sonali Mohapatra Nanda who was announced the winner of the prestigious Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Prativa Puraskar (young talent award) instituted by Central Sangeet Natak Akademi and considered as the national award for young talents.

Sonali in her early 30’s and a mother of a six-year-old child, has been performing for the past 15 years winning accolades, awards and critical appreciation for her recitals in several major occasions including festivals hosted by the Sangeet Natak Akademi and the Indian Council of Cultural Relations. She has also been the recipient of the junior and senior national scholarships for Odissi dance from the Ministry of Culture.

Sonali was robbed of her ability to hear for wrong prescription of medicines for fever when she was barely five. However, it was her dream and determination that made her a dancer, says her father Nirmal Mohapatra, a music composer who served Doordarshan as a programme producer. Akademi awardee Odissi exponent Guru Durga Charan Ranbir has the greatest contribution in grooming her as a dancer, he acknowledged.

Sense of rhythm

Apart from the passion and determination to dance, Sonali has a strong sense of rhythm and is adept at reading lip movements of the vocalist. This helps her to follow the music despite her disability, revealed her Guru.

Sonali runs her own Odissi dance institution in Bhubaneswar where she trains budding dancers and her troupe has also started performing in various events winning appreciation.


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