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Antardrishti: 96th Birth Anniversary of Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra
Photos courtesy: Srjan

January 12, 2022

For two years now, people world over have been reeling under the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Amidst this, cultural institutions and performing artistes have been continuing to find ways to keep their art, passion, and dedication alive in a big way digitally, and when permissible, in physical spaces. Against this backdrop, Antardrishti - moving towards excellence and inspired by the genius of legendary Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra, a collaboration between Srjan-Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra Odissi Nrityabasa (GKCMON) and Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra Odissi Research Centre (GKCMORC), was held at Utkal Ranga Mancha, Bhubaneswar on January 8, 2022 to commemorate the 96th birth anniversary of celebrated Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra, founder of Srjan and an unquestionable doyen of Odissi dance.

This year, as per the state government's mandate, invitees including artistes, luminaries from the world of art, dignitaries, students, teachers and performers, all attended the program in strict adherence to Covid guidelines, allowed entry only with a complete vaccination certificate and masks at all times. The function began sharp at 6.30pm with the auspicious lighting of the lamp. Among the luminaries who were present at the event were eminent mardala exponent Guru Dhaneswar Swain, Guru Aruna Mohanty, President, Odisha Sangeet Natak Akademi and Sangita Gosain, former Chief Executive, GKCM Odissi Research Centre.

The Srjan ensemble, one of India's leading repertory groups, led by the artistic direction of Guru Ratikant Mohapatra, presents neoclassical innovations in Odissi dance, while preserving its rich classicism. Known for creating a Guinness World Record for choreographing an Odissi dance composition featuring 555 dancers, Guru Ratikant Mohapatra has received numerous awards including the Central Sangeet Natak Akademi Award. And in 2011, for their outstanding performance and contribution to Odissi dance, Srjan received the Rashtriya Raja Mansingh Tomar Samman from the Government of Madhya Pradesh.

Bho Shambho by Srjan

Bho Shambho by Srjan
Bho Shambho

The Srjan ensemble kicked off the performances for the evening with a bouquet of experimental works based on sinuous dance movements. They commenced with Bho Shambho, a Sanskrit prayer of devotion to Lord Shiva, composed by Swami Dayananda Saraswati, and choreographed by Ratikant Mohapatra. The fast-paced intensity of the choreography was a demonstration of technical virtuosity and stamina on the part of the dancers, pulling the focus of the artistes into complete concentration on the object of devotion - Lord Shiva.

This synchronous and extremely energetic dance was followed by Meepa in adi taal,an experimental choreograph amalgamating creative and classical elements, bringing out variant dance movements with its novel style of execution. It represented an expansion of the movement oeuvre of a dance style known for its sinuousness and precision, set to the choreography and rhythm composition of Ratikant Mohapatra, who has tirelessly worked on the unfolding of a style characteristic of various Srjan productions. Versatile violinist Agnimitra Behera is the music composer for this presentation. The dancers Aishwariya Singhdev, Pragna Parimita Das, Preetisha Mohapatra, Reebdhita Barua, Sanjay Kumar Behera, G. Sanjay, and Madhabi Raut, presented both pieces with technical precision and Úlan.

Meepa by Srjan

This was followed by a Jugalbandi by Dr. Sandip Kumar Raut on the sarod and Jabahar Mishra on the flute. Dr. Sandip Kumar Raut's musical journey through the years has enthralled audiences, with his prowess in both the sarod and tabla. Jabahar Mishra, in addition to being one of Odisha's most sought after flautists and accompanists for Odissi dance, is known for his versatile and mellifluous renditions. Accompanied on the tabla by Subhranshu Shekhar Sahoo, their musical presentation for the evening was a befitting tribute and mesmerizing end to the program.

Jugalbandi by Srjan

They began their recital with a presentation in raag Gorakha Kalyan, based on mata taal and dhrut teentaal. As they weaved through the complexities and nuances of this piece, they transitioned seamlessly into their concluding piece for the evening, a dhun, the popular Raghupati Raghav in raag Mishra Pilu, based on taal dipchandi and kahraba. The exploration of these musical tracks by two experienced professionals proved to be a testament to the legacy of art, dance and music, left behind by Guruji himself.

The entire program was aided by the able and brilliant light design, as always, of Debiprasad Mishra, and compered by Dr. Srinibas Ghatuary, who brought the whole evening together with his eloquent speech. Ratikant Mohapatra's uncompromising attention to detail, demand for perfection, and high levels of professionalism in all spheres of activity related to dance and music have established himself and Srjan as leading forces in the art form today, both in organising and performances.

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