April 7, 2004
Legendary Odissi dancer and guru Kelucharan Mohapatra passed away at Care Hospital, Bhubaneswar, on Wednesday April 7, 2004. He was 78. He had been ailing for some time. He is survived by his wife Laxmipriya, his son Ratikanta and daughter-in-law Sujatha Mohanty.
Kelucharan Mohapatra was born into a family of Patachitrakars on January 8, 1926 at Raghurajpur, on the coastal district of Puri. He was a Gotipua in his childhood. Gotipuas were boy dancers who dressed like female dancers and danced like the maharis who were the equivalent of the devadasis of South India. He was trained in mrudanga playing by his father Chintamani Mohapatra, himself a distinguished painter of traditional Pata-Chitra. His father sent him to the Kunja Behari Rasa Leela at the age of nine. Here he learnt the finer nuances of dance and theatre, and mastered various percussion instruments like khol, mrudanga, pakhwaj and tabla. He was groomed as a dancer at Annapurna Theatre by gurus Pankaj Charan Das and Dayal Saran and rose to become a versatile dancer, percussionist and choreographer. Spread across the globe, his disciples perform his innumerable dance compositions that extend the technique and repertoire of the Odissi style.
The Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra Award is conferred by his institution Srjan on an old artiste connected with one of the 4 fields - music, dance, theatre or film, which the great guru himself has been involved with. This is in appreciation of artistes who do not get proper recognition or financial support despite tremendous contribution to the art form.
He was awarded Padma Shri in 1972, the Padma Bhushan in 1989, and the Padma Vibushan in 2000. He was a recipient of the Kalidas Samman and was honored by the Government of France in 1995.
Filmmaker Kumar Sahani has made a documentary titled ‘Bhavantarana’ on Kelucharan Mohapatra.