Dance

Offering to the guru

Elegant presentation.

Elegant presentation.  

This year’s Nrutyanjali dance festival presented both well- known and new choreographies.

HYDERABAD: “It is equally important to create dance and dancers besides dancing to carry on and enrich the tradition”, late legendary Odissi exponent Guru Gangadhar Pradhan had told his disciple Rosalin Mohapatra two decades ago. And that resulted in the birth of her 16-year-old Debadasi Odissi Academy in Bhubaneswar and Nrutyanjali (offering of dance), the annual Odissi dance festival of the academy 12 years ago that presents the young Guru Rosalin’s new creations – both disciples and choreographies that the Odissi fraternity and connoisseurs look forward to each time with curiosity.

The just concluded two-day festival, staged at Rabindra Mandap in Bhubaneshwar, lived up to the expectations of the artistes and connoisseurs alike. It presented five of Rosalin’s new choreographies and six of her senior disciples in duet and group formats besides the beginners who staged some popular compositions of Gangadhar Pradhan and his Guru Pankaj Charan Das. She also performed a composition of Guru Aruna Mohanty.

The festival further presented two talented young dancers as soloists and guest artistes who follow the legacy of Gangadhar Pradhan. The two dancers – Smrutipuspa Panda, trained under Pravat Kumar Swain, a disciple of Gangadhar and Mitali Priya Giri, trained under Aruna Mohanty – were a special treat for the audience. Both excelled in both the aspects of pure and expressional dancing.

The two dancers, who have taken up Odissi as profession and have completed their master ’s degree, displayed the high degree of perfection and professionalism for which Gangadhar was known,. It was also touching to watch Rosalin perform Aruna Mohanty’s path-breaking choreography exploring modern Odia poetry – Barabadhu (the best bride) – with due intensity and involvement despite being the host of the event.

Her senior disciples – Sudeshna, Reshma, Susmita, Bidyangi, Sandhya, Swaty and Sagarika – staged their guru Rosalin’s choreographies with utmost perfection. Bho Sambhu, an invocation to the God of dance, was aptly the inaugural presentation of the festival.

Nadam, a pure dance number that explored the sound patterns of the percussion instrument of mardal, the enchanting flute and the rhythmic marvel of manjira (the tiny cymbals), was a treat for the eyes and ears. It was, literally, a jugalbandi between the enchanting sound patterns of the musical instruments and lyrical limbs of the dancers. Similarly, the pallabi (pure dance) set to raga Bajrakanti, with music scored by veteran vocalist-composer Ramahari Das, was quite captivating. Of the expressional dance pieces that the disciples presented, Mohana Murati Chhai was enchanting with three pairs of dancers enacting the same two characters – but for different segments of the song - of the two female friends (the gopis) who talk of the seductive look of Krishna.

Juxtaposed to the joyful dancing, the duet Bitilata Jamini (the night passed by but Krishna is yet to arrive) was soaked in melancholy that was neatly essayed by Sandhya and Swati.

The highlight of the festival was, however, the dance drama Nirbasita (in exile) based on an episode from The Ramayana that shows how Sita was cursed to suffer separation from her husband for being responsible for separating a pair of birds in love.

Since the dance-drama genre – that was quite popular in Odissi scene during its formative years through the works of pioneers like Pankaj Charan and Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra - has almost disappeared from the present day Odissi repertoire, Rosalin’s venture received much applause.

The young dancers, most of whom were teenagers, emoted with much maturity and won hearts for the production. Soulful live music contributed immensely towards the appeal of the dance concerts on both the evenings.

Rosalin roped in many reputed musicians for her live orchestra who made much difference. Among them were music composer Sachikant Nayak, percussionist and rhythm exponent Bijaya Kumar Barik, violinist Ramesh Chandra Das, vocalists Harapriya Swain and Rupak Kumar Parida.

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Printable version | Feb 21, 2020 11:25:52 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/dance/Offering-to-the-guru/article14380362.ece

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