A blend of lasya and tandava


Innovative dance recital by Sharmila Biswas marked the Dhauli Mohotsav.

Classical Odissi dance has scope for creative innovation. Calcutta-based Odissi danseuse Sharmila Biswas presented some innovative dance items at the Dhauli Mohotsav, which demonstrated her involvement in Odissi. And in spite of her involvement one wondered if Sharmila is informed enough to dare innovations since some of her pieces did not conform to basic features of classical Odissi. The event was organised by Odissa Dance Academy and sponsored by Orissa Tourism Department, recently.Of the four items Sharmila's troupe Odissi Vision & Movement Centre presented, two were in the expressional (abhinaya) category in which she excelled. Her group of dancers had their expressional item based on a traditional song Hema harini by poet Biswanath Khuntia. The lyric described Lord Rama chasing the golden deer (maya mruga), which is an illusion rather than a reality. Sharmila's portrayal of the fleeing deer and chasing Sri Rama revealed her choreographic skill; but more than that' she drove home the hidden meaning - human beings perennially chasing an illusion, maya. Another expressional piece Sharmila presented was Shiva-Parabati Shabda wherein the lasya and tandava were contrasted. Lord Shiva was the exponent of tandava whereas his consort Parbati expounded lasya.

Beautiful presentation

It was a beautiful group dance item, presenting alternately tandava and lasya elements with the music changing to suit the feeling (bhava). What added to the appeal was an innovative vocal support, which in dance parlance is known as sobda swara pataba (certain words and vocal intonations uttered stylistically). But Sharmila also used the same innovation in Mokshya, the final section of Odissi, which is of pure dance (nritta) category. Even whole songs were sung in this item of Sharmila, which is actually a pure dance number and must not have any songs. Mokshya in Odissi is a sublime dance far above all expressional piece. The joy of merging with the divine is an experience without any parallel.Dhauli Mohotsav had various other presentations but one item that stood out was an abhinaya by the Gotipua group from Konark. The troupe of five Gotipua kids danced to the tunes of thesong Dekha Pranamitani based on Gotipua Guru Birabara Sahu's choreography. Gotipua is one of the streams that helped modern Odissi to evolve. It was interacting to watch the number: straight forward rendering of the theme, almost with no frills.

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