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Rain - a theme for dance
- Kasturika Mishra
Photo: Sanjay Koul

September 7, 2022

What elegance does to your art when you are steeped in tradition as well as stepping ahead to uncharted frontiers? The usual repertoire in dance styles based on mythological characters is passing through a transition phase. No longer do you see young dancers confining themselves to productions or compositions that don't cross the lines. One such fine example was that of Lipsa Satpathy opening the IIC Monsoon Festival 2022.

Lipsa said, "My selection of items was not only to present rare Odissi gems for Delhites to authentic blend of Odissi choreography, but also to present old collection of melodies."

Lipsa danced three abhinaya pieces after the veneration to Lord Jagannath in Jagannath Astakam. Each piece was a revelation to the range of emotions Lipsa can portray. True to the theme, in Varsha visara Lipsa moved mountains, trees, grass, lovers and displayed the myriad moods of rain on nature and lovers with music set by Ramahari Das. There was an emperor, an elephant marching his brood describing in gestures the simple pleasures of rainy season on earth.

Lipsa Satpathy

In the next piece she handled the surreptitious affair between Radha and Krishna, its love play and courtship seen through Radha's girl friends. The interplay of emotions was a treat to watch. In the next abhinaya set to Odissi ragas by Prafulla Kar, Lipsa resembles a pining lover adorning her place for arrival of her lover to her abode. Alas, but Krishna doesn't arrive and yet again dodges his kept promise to Radha. The range of waiting, anticipation, then remorse with a lot of melodramatic moments were highlights of this piece.

On being questioned, "Why are contemporary artistes not attempting newer topics?," Lipsa replied, "Artistes are always ready to explore, experiment and show new work to the audience. However, there is a lot of dependency on such platforms that allow us to perform on such themes. As artistes, we can create and present on the given theme and we do experiment to show newer numbers whenever we get a chance or freedom. Lastly, we would also like to bring newer choreographies but at the same time it should also get acceptance from the audience for such themes or for the pure classical presentations which is still widely expected from us."

After Covid, funding is a major issue and hindrance for new age productions. Lipsa says, "We are ready to create new presentations and ideas! How much is the audience ready to accept such changes still remains a challenge but larger issue which we all face are the funding or sponsorships. Funding is limited to certain production houses, and overall we as artistes need sponsorships to create, develop and present to the audience. The traditional arts face lot of challenges from within the community but also from digital entertainment world.

Legacy of legends in our generations continues and we shall try our best in our limited means to educate, share and showcase the works of our Gurus, in my case of Guru Gangadhar Pradhan. He had established Orissa Dance Academy (ODA) which is based in Bhubaneswar. ODA is now spearheaded by Guru Aruna Mohanty and I along with my other peers, new students are working under her guidance and blessings to spread the original and authentic learning of Guruji. Lot of work has been undertaken by Guru Aruna Mohanty also to bring out wonderful presentations and choreographies to the younger generations. I am committed to my dance and carry on the legacy of my Gurus as much as I can."

Lipsa continues to work under the tutelage of Guru Aruna Mohanty and Guru Bichitrandra Swain. Lipsa shows promise as one of the best dancers in Delhi in the Odissi form.

Kasturika Mishra
Kasturika Mishra hails from Puri, Odisha and is a trained classical singer. She has also trained in Odissi and gazal style of singing. She has worked as a senior cataloging Librarian at the US Embassy, New Delhi, for twenty years. She is empanelled as book reviewer for The Book Review. She also writes on dance, music and theater.

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