Konark Temple sculptures came alive in Madhulita Mohapatra 
- Rashmita Jena 
e-mail: rashmita.jenna@hotmail.com 

October 13, 2009 

Coming to Bangalore on vacations and planning for a weekend outing with relatives and friends have not been easy for me, atleast in my last two visits. Thankfully, a website spoke of an Odissi performance at Seva Sadan Auditorium, Malleswaram, Bangalore, on 10th October 2009, with a brief description of the dance pieces, the Odissi dancer Madhulita Mohapatra was to perform. When I saw Konark Kantee, I decided, I was going to see it. It was a couple of years back, I saw the grand rendition of the dance piece at Konark Festival at Konark. That was breathtakingly beautiful and magical! I just wanted to see it again.  

Beating the harrowing traffic of the city, I managed to reach the venue in time. The occasion was the sixth edition of Nrithya Dhare, a Festival of Dance organised by the Bangalore based organisation Ananya to showcase upcoming dancers. 
The evening started with Madhulita Mohapatra's invocatory Mangalacharan, Nagendraharaya, dedicated to Lord Shiva. With soulful vocals of the Shiva Panchakshari sloka, her dance was high on devotion. Even with a small slippage in the middle, she managed to maintain the vigour of the dance without sacrificing the grace. It was soulfully delightful! 

Then came the dance I was waiting for, Konark Kantee, the splendid creation of Guru Gangadhar Pradhan. I was wondering how a solo rendition would be, since what I have witnessed already at Konark Festival was too magnificent. Beginning with beautiful poses as the stone sculptures at the Sun Temple in Konark - the Veena, the Venu, the Mardala, the Salamanjika, the Alasa, and the Darpana - with small use of the effects of stage lights, Madhulita started the tale of the sculptures waking up to the caressing of the moonlight. What followed with her dancing then was spellbinding. With the passing of the night, the sculptures begin dancing to the intoxicating music, creating the exquisite artistry of the temple as Konark smiles and celebrates in the glory of the moment. On resounding beats of the pakhawaj, the great energy, the beautiful poses, the graceful postures, the perfect footwork, the flawless movements on the fast and rapidly changing rhythm and beats, the tempo, the delight and the beauty with which she danced, captivated one and all in the auditorium. It reminded me of what the famous poet Rabindranath Tagore wrote of Konark, "Here the language of stone surpasses the language of man." Madhulita's Konark Kantee was a treat to watch and experience!  

Madhulita concluded her performance with the expressional dance piece, an abhinaya, Naba Durga. It describes the nine different forms of the Goddess Durga, the embodiment of female strength in Hindu teachings. This is perhaps the most favourite of the compositions of Late Guru Pankaj Charan Das, the guru of gurus of Odissi dance. The dancer impressed the audience with her invocation to the Goddess Durga or Shakti who is manifested in a variety of ways and each reflects a particular aspect of Shakti. Madhulita maintained the grace and elegance of the different forms with varying moods and emotions. This was surely a soul-satisfying end to a beautiful display of Odissi dance. After this, a Mokshya at the end would have been even better.  

I came to know of the organisation Ananya and its efforts to promote art and the artists. I congratulate them for organising such events with my best wishes for their future endeavours. 

Rashmita Jena is an Odissi dancer, TV Anchor and actor from Bhubaneswar. She has performed at many popular dance festivals in India.