A confluence of Odissi tradition and excellence at Mukteswar Temple
To showcase the cultural heritage of Odisha,the Department of Tourism, Government of Odishaorganised the threeday annual Mukteswar Dance Festival at the Mukteswar Temple premises from January 14 to 16, 2019.
The festival, based on the Odissi dance form, began each evening with a group prayer, a solo performance, followed by a duet, and culminating in a group performance.
January 14, 2019
The evening began with a chorus, Shiva Vandana by the students of Guru KelucharanaMohapatraOdissiResearch Centre, Bhubaneswar.
This was followed by a solo Odissi recital bySurupa Sen from Bengaluru, who kept the audiencespellbound with her recital of ParvatiPanchakam. Her graceful moves, the tinkle of her anklets and the symphony of music against the backdrop were enchanting.Surupa, the first student ofNrityagram, began her Odissi training under Guru KelucharanMohapatra. Attracted to choreography since her childhood, she constantly experiments with new dance forms, merging movements with and expanding the movement oevre of Odissidance. She also performed an Odia abhinaya,Ke Kiso Kohila, and concluded her performance with a soulfulMeeraBhajan.
The second performance of the evening was an Odissi duet by Rajib Bhattacharya and Subikash Mukherjee from Kolkata.Rajib complete his M.A. in Odissi dance from RabindraBharati University, Kolkata, but his eagerness to specialize in it brought him to SRJAN,where he was fortunate to receive training under Guru KelucharanMohapatraand Sri RatikantMohapatra. Subikash, an established Odissi dancer is a student of Guru RatikantaMohapatra. He was also trained by Padmashri awardee, Smt. KumKumMohanty and the legendary Padmavibhushan, Guru KelucharanMohapatra.
Rajib and Subikash performed a dance-drama from the Bhagavat Gita.The evening concluded with a group Odissipresentation by Pravat Kumar Swain and his group NrutyaNaivedya, performing PratahSmaraami (Mangalacharan), followed by a Pallavi in RaagVakula Rasa-Vichitra.
January 15, 2019
The second evening commenced with an invocation to Lord Shiva by RupakParida and his group. They presented a Shiva VandanaShivanamabalyashtakam. After that, Lingaraj Pradhan graced the stage with perfect poses, incredibly fluid body movements,radiant eyes, and a smiling face, performing a Pallavi, set to RaagAnanda Bhairavi,and mesmerising the audience.
Lingaraj had the good fortune to imbibe his Odissi training from Guru Bichitrananda Swain and Guru Gangadhar Pradhan. He is a recipient of the senior National Scholarship from the Ministry of Culture, Governmentof India and other prestigious awards.Currently, he is the Head of Department at UtkalSangeetMahavidyalaya, Bhubaneswar. His second presentation, Rudrashtakam drew heavy applause from the audience.
Following Lingaraj Pradhan’ssolo was an Odissiduet by LipsaSatapathyand Y. Asha Kumari from New Delhi who performed a
Pallavi and anAbhinaya titledNavarasa.
It was a unique jugalbandiof poetry and Odissi, and captivated the audience till the end. Both dancers displayed elegant postures with sensuous and graceful body movements.
The evening culminated with a group presentation of Smt. SutapaTalukdar’s group from Kolkata. They performed the GajananVandana, and Pallavisset to RaagNaniand Basanta. Smt. Sutapa, a performer, teacher, and choreographer imbibed her training from Guru KelucharanaMohapatra.
January 16, 2019
The final day of Mukteswar Dance Festival began with a Shiva Vandana, Uma MaheshwaraStotram, by UtkalSangeetMahavidalaya.
Danseuse JanhabiBehera then took over the stage and charmed the audience with her graceful movements. She was initially trained by Guru Ramesh Chandra Jena and Guru YudhisthirNayak and her talent in the art form was further nurtured under GuruArunaMohanty and Guru Gangadhar Pradhan.
Next was the duet performance to a Pallaviset to RaagGawati and the presentation of PanchaParameswar by the talented TapanKumar Sahoo and BidyaBiswajita from UtkalUniversity of Culture.Bidya is a disciple of the eminent dancer, Smt.Meera Das. Presently, both Bidya and Tapan are undergoing training at the Utkal University of Culture under the tutelage of Guru Manoranjan Pradhan.
The three day festival came to an end with a group Odissi performance by Gunjan Dance Academy of Smt. Meera Das from Cuttack.The performance was poetry in motion and demonstrated a ritualistic choreography that kept the audience enthralled throughout.
Connoisseurs of classical dance from across theglobe, art critics, esteemed members of the art community and many reputed classical dancerswere present on all three days of this prestigious festival.
As one of the most prestigious festivals of Odisha, enhancing the tourism of the state, with its vast inflow of foreign tourists, and its rich cultural significance for the state and the people of Odisha, the Department of Tourism has done a wonderful job in promoting the plurality of Odisha’s culture, while preserving its rich heritage through this festival.
The Mukteswar Dance Festival is held in a sacred temple premises resonating this rich tradition, and in order to keep this legacy alive, it is essential to understand the importance of keeping the light and sound engineering of the festival in-sync with the prestige associated with it. It is deeply distressing to point out that while the festival organisers select artistes par excellence to perform, the lighting fell short of the mark and requires further attention in order to enhance the expressions and the bodily movements of the artistes, be it in solo, duet or group presentations.
Furthermore, the sound engineering needs to be worked upon. As it is globally telecast on the web and on Doordarshan, and as the festival demands the best of the dancers and the live accompanying orchestra, alike, it is imperative that the quality of light and sound remain superb to highlight the best of the performances to audiences across India and the globe. This attention to detail is essential so that the Mukteswar Festival may continue to uphold this prestige in the future as an internationally reputed premier Odissi dance festival.