Enchanting Odissi at Sai Nrityotsav National Dance Festival
- Shobhana Rao
e-mail: shobhana.s.rao@gmail.com

January 2, 2012

For Odissi lovers, the 3rd National Dance Festival which was organised by Sai Arts International and took place on the 16, 17 and 18 December 2011 at Seva Sadan, Bangalore, was a visual treat. It had some brilliant young performers showcasing the art form.

The first day of the festival saw young, talented Puja Jena from Bhubaneswar. It is always refreshing to see such good dancers from the soil. A disciple of Guru Gangadhar Pradhan and Aruna Mohanty, Puja started with a pallavi based on raag Rageshree. Her dance was replete with graceful moves and eye-catching postures. However, it was her abhinaya item in Oriya, Bajuchhi Sahi Bajare that charmed everyone. The piece revolves around a sakhi telling Radha that the whole city of Braja is resounding with the rumours of her love affair with Krishna. It was pleasing to see the artiste in the item. There is no doubt Puja has a great future ahead of her.

The last day of the festival also had memorable performances. The first was by the beautiful Shibani Pattnaik from USA. After paying homage to Lord Jagannath, she presented Panchabhuta, a piece on the five elements of Nature - earth, sky, air, water and fire, brilliantly choreographed by Guru Aruna Mohanty. From the word go, her dance was of precision, control, balance and poise. She concluded with delightful Hamsadhwani Pallavi.

Puja Jena
Madhulita Mohapatra & Meghna Das
Next came the Odissi trio led by Bangalore based Madhulita Mohapatra, to enthrall everyone. She along with students Sonalika Padhi and Meghna Das, commenced their recital with the invocatory Dhyaye Subarna Barna in praise of Devi Durga. The soulful music was complemented by a fine display of group presentation, perfect synchronization and beautiful artistry. The item bespoke of their assiduous training and hold over their art. However, it was Manini, a solo Oriya abhinaya item that was the highlight of the evening. This highly moving piece was choreographed by Guru Gangadhar Pradhan on the beautiful music of Guru Ramhari Das. The piece gave the artiste an opportunity to showcase the myriad emotions of Radha's ordeal and Madhulita’s abhinaya skills shone through. The transformation from Vasakasajja Nayika to Virahotkanthita Nayika was spellbinding. They concluded their recital with another Oriya abhinaya item, Bajuchhi Sahi Bajare, performed as a solo earlier in the festival by Puja Jena, this time in the form of a duet. The characters of Radha and her sakhi (friend), who warns Radha that people on the streets are talking about her love affair with Krishna, were effectively played by Madhulita and Sonalika.

Shobhana Rao is a student of Odissi guru Madhura Sarkar.