Mukteswar Dance Festival 
- Shyamhari Chakra in Bhubaneswar
February 3, 2007 

Just into its second edition, the Mukteswar annual dance festival being mounted in Bhubaneswar by Orissa tourism has arrested the attention of the Odissi dancers and admirers fraternity the world over for its focus on Odissi and variety as well. And of course for the live telecast on Doordarshan and web cast.

The only festival of its kind in the world that showcases the best of Odissi in solo, duet and group format, the recently concluded four-day event proved its uniqueness with some of the best known artistes and troupes participating in it.

Aruna Mohanty
Ratikant Mohapatra, Sujata Mohapatra
While Aruna Mohanty, Kabita Dwibedi, Leena Mohanty and Kumkum Mohanty were featured as soloists, Madhavi Mudgal, Sharmila Biswas, Aloka Kanungo and Ratikant Mohapatra had group presentations. Duets were presented by Sutapa Talukdar and Ranjana Gauhar besides disciples of Kasturi Patnaik and Ramani Ranjan Jena.

With an amazing "angasuddhi" that resulted in a series of strikingly sculpturesque poses, versatile Aruna emerged as the best soloist of the festival with her peerless performance. She was at her best in "Konark kanti" (the beauty of the Konark), a pure dance number that explored the beauty of the rhythmic body movements. The other impressive soloist was Leena Mohanty who executed an excellent articulation of little Krishna in "Govind Damodar stotra," a superb choreographic composition of her guru Durga Charan Ranbir in the Debaprasad Das gharana.

Ashok Ghosal, Ranjana Gauhar
Eroticism met spiritualism in Ranjana Gauhar's lyrical limb language in presentation of the most memorable duet of the event with Ashok Ghosal as Krishna in Jayadev's immortal "Geet Govind." Her intense and expressive "abhinaya" in a refreshingly reworked choreography was duly supplemented by an evocative rendition by vocalist Sukant Kundu apart from elegant costumes.

Keeping with the legacy of late legendary Kelucharan Mohapatra, artistes of his institution Srjan led by his son and institute director Ratikant Mohapatra put up the best group presentation of the festival. Exhibiting a great sense of team spirit, the professionally trained young artistes executed with élan a dance of delight in the grand geometric patterns conceived by choreographer Ratikant Mohapatra. And it was a simply superb performance by Ratikant as Hanuman along with his star dancer wife Sujata as Seeta that was mesmerizing.

The pulsating performances and aesthetic ambience of the Mukteswar temple complex apart, what elevated the beauty of the festival was the demonstration of an apt art of anchoring by Itishree Dwibedi, a dancer herself, and popular television news reader Deba Prasad Das.

A former journalist with the Indian Express group, Shyamhari Chakra is a New Delhi based freelancer writing on dance and culture. He is building up an archive on Odissi dance in Bhubaneswar.  He is a regular contributor to