Guru KelucharanMohapatra's legacy celebrated in Dallas
- NiranjanTripathy
Photos courtesy: Jagannath Rath, Dallas

October 23, 2010

The Dallas-Fort Worth Hindu Temple marked the Dussehra celebration with an Odissi dance recital presented by Guru Ratikant Mohapatra. He was accompanied by Aparupa Chatterjee, a member of the Srjan repertory. Ratikant's stage appearance in Dallas was much anticipated, as this was his first performance in this area after 2001, when he had accompanied his legendary father, Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra.

In keeping with the festivity season, the program started with Tulsidas' "Shri Ramachandra Krupalu Bhajamana." The soulful score by Pradip Kumar Das was a marked departure from the more popular version, and whose slow and measured tempo was well suited to the Odissi style. Dancing to his own choreography, Ratikant used elaborate Sanchari bhava to not only portray the valor and saintliness of Lord Rama in equal measure, but also to breathe life into well-known episodes of the Ramayana, most notably, Sita Swayamvar and the Rama-Ravana conflict.

This piece was followed by Durga, which was based on Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra's choreography and Debashis Sarkar's composition, performed by Aparupa Chatterjee. Aparupa's pedigree and talent showed through her graceful execution of this invocatory prayer. She was particularly striking in her rendition of Mahishasura Mardini, which evoked the fury and dignity of Goddess Durga.

Jatayu Mokshya, the most moving of the three pieces, was saved for the end. This episode from Tulsidas' Ramacharita Manas, was choreographed by Ratikant, and set to the musical composition of Laxmikant Palit. Throughout this item, both Ratikant and Aparupa switched personae multiple times, and in the process brought out their varied abhinaya skills. Especially, the abduction of Sita by Ravana and the dying of Jatayu in Lord Rama's arms were intensely emotive in content as well as in its exposition.

At the conclusion of the program, members of the DFW Hindu Temple executive committee joined the audience in felicitating Guru Ratikant Mohapatra and paid tribute to the legacy of Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra.

This program was made possible through the support of the DFW Hindu Temple, and the initiative of Swati Tripathy, a member of the temple executive committee. It was brought to the DFW area by the Center for Orissa Performing Arts for Americans. COPAA has organized numerous performing arts events, especially Odissi, in this area since its inception in 2000, and has been the primary force for creating and sustaining interest in Odissi dance and music in the region.

Niranjan Tripathy moved with his family to the DFW metroplex in 1988, and has been organizing Odissi events in this area since the 1990s. He also writes about Indian performing arts for the local media. Niranjan is actively involved in community activities at all levels. He is the past president of the Orissa Society of the Americas, past treasurer and current board member of the India Association of North Texas. He teaches Finance at the University of North Texas, and serves as the Director of Ph.D. Program and Research at the UNT College of Business. He and his wife, Swati, have been a primary force for developing interest in Odissi dance and music in this region through the Center for Orissa Performing Arts for Americans (COPAA).