One of the seniormost disciples of Guru Kelucharan Mahapatra, dancer cum choreographer Kumkum has been involved in guiding research projects related to pedagogy and codification of odissi grammer. She is an involved dancer who represents the essence of Kelu Babu’s style.
• Kalawati Pallavi
Pallavi is the most graceful pure dance genre in Odissi, developing movement theme and rhythmic variations in a Raga. This Pallavi has been choreographed by Kumkum Mohanty.
Draupadi’s initiation to the marriage with five Pandava brothers. A unique interpretation of draupadi’s innermost perception of her husbands and family. This is based on Dr. Pratibha Roy’s ‘Yajnaseni’.
Music: Profulla Kar
Choreography: Kelucharan Mahapatra
Initiated into dance in her childhood, Kiran began by learning the Uday Shankar style from her parents. She later specialized both in Bharatanatyam and Odissi, learning from eminent Gurus. She learnt Odissi under Guru Mayadhar Raut.
• Sabhinaya Nritya
This piece blends most harmoniously rhythm and expressional dance. The theme is devotional and revolves around the story of Krishna and Radha. Radha describes Krishna’s divine beauty to her Sakhi and tells her that he has stolen her heart.
• Muha-muhin Kisora
In this composition by Gopala Krishna, Radha saya: I met Krishna today on the banks of Yamuna. Seated on a rock, my robes were in a total disarray when my Sakhi indicated Krishna’s arrival and I trembled out of anticipation and anxiety.
A disciple of Guru Mayadhar Raut, Ranjana is not just a Odissi dancer who has performed widely but is also an artiste who has produced and directed a number of dance-dramas depicting contemporary and mythological themes.
• Shankarabharanam Pallavi - A traditional Pallavi revived by Guru Pankaj Charan Das and Choreographed by Guru Mayadhar Raut.
• Radha Rani Sange Nache Murali Pani: This Oriya song, describes the divine dance of Radha and Krishna, inspired by the beauty of spring.
• Jayadeva’s Geeta Govinda : In Sakhi he, Radha reminisces about her first meeting with Krishna to her Sakhi and in Kuru Yadunandana, she is with Krishna as an evolved companion. The ashtapadis of Jayadeva were the only lyrics sung and danced in Puri temple as offering to Jagganath.
Known for her refined sensibilities and subtlety, Madhavi choose Odissi as a medium of expression. She first trained under Guru Hare Krishna Behera and later under Guru Kelu Charan Mahapatra. Besides being a prolific performer, Madhavi draws immense satisfaction from her role as a Guru. She has contributed to the evolution of this dance from by adding new choreographies.
• Sohamasmi : Text drawn from the very first Upanishad – Isavasyopanishad, this composition is a homage to the Rishis of Vedic age, who through their spiritual vision realised the Ultimate within their own sky like mind, and pronounced ‘Sohamasmi’ – I am He.
Music - Madhup Mudgal
Choreography - Madhavi Mudgal
• Khela Lola Khanjanakshi - Radha is teased by her friend for daring to desire the unattainable. The lyric is by Kavi Surya Baldev Rath.
Sharon came India with an M.A. in dance from the University of Michigan. Under Guru Kelu Charan Mahapatra’s inspired guidance, she has become one of the leading Odissi dancers of today. She also is a scolar, writer, and choreographer who propagates Indian performing arts through various media.
• Kalidasa’s Nayikas
The 2000 year old classics of Kalidasa describes the enchantment of life through poetic imagery. The naika’s transformation through the unbroken movement and change of life’s mute flowering in Sharad Ritu (early winter), the Mugdha Bhava of Malavika (the innocent bride), the threat and promise of Maghadoota (Cloud Messenger) and the final exultation of Parvati uniting with Shiva in Kumarasambhavam, have been beautifully delineated in this masterpiece.
A leading dance choreographer, Sharmila is a senior disciple of Guru Kelu Charan Mahapatra. Her in depth study of the Oriya creative arts has helped her evolve the individualistic of Odissi dance from that she now practices. She is known for her originality of composition, technique and stage design. Her versatility ranges from classical to experimental choreography.
• Vadya Chhanda
In Jagganath Puri, during the Rath Yatra and other festivals, the devotees dance and sing and play percussion instruments, mainly the Madala, Mridanga and the Jhanjhar. Sharmila has explored these three musical instruments and woven dance pattern with them.
• Braja Ku Chora Chi
Yashoda, Krishna’s mother, is trying to get him to sleep, but Krishna has other plans. She says: A thief is roaming around in the streets; stop your antics or he will take you away. The whole village is a sleep and you are still wide awake! Lyrics by the great medieval poet, Banamali Das.
Introduced by: Kavita dwibedi
Photographed by: Avinash Pasricha & DD Archives
Cover Photo: Avinash Pasricha
Project Director: Navin Kumar
Devised & Designed by: Kamalini Dutt
Associates: Ved M Rao & Kali Prasad
Orissa, on the east coast of India, where the sun rises over the temples on the shore, celebrates Oriyan culture in architecture, dance, music, painting and even in the hand-woven ikat silks used for dance costumes. Odissi, a dance of Orissa, is a dance re-discovered in the twentieth century; one that has moved, like all classical dances of India, from the temple to the stage.
Odissi dance is particularly known for its lyrical grace, elaborate rhythmic variations and dramatic expression. It is easily identified by silver ornaments worn by the dancer and the pith flower ornamenets topped by an elevated tiara of pith flowers representing the spire of the temple. The sensual ‘S’ curve of the body in Odissi, created by the asymmetrical Tribhangi position, can be seen in sculptures dating back to the dancing girl of Mohenjodaro. The lyrical movement of the torso during dance phrases as well as in final sculpturesque poses is a defining characteristic of the Odissi style of movement.
The Natya Shastra text on dance, drama and music by Bharata Muni is a definitive and detailed text on the pan-India performing arts, writing sometimes between the 2nd centuries B.C. and A.D. It speaks of the dance of Odhra Magadha, which included Kalinga and Odhra (modern Orissa), excelling in dramatic expression, that is, abhinaya. The relief sculptures of dancers and accompanying orchestra found on the walls of the second century B.C. Rani Gumpha Sanskrit theatre at Udayagiri, Orissa, predated the Natya Shastra.
Perhaps the more significant shared aspect of Odissi to other classical Indian dance forms is the motivation of the dance form a spiritual consciousness. Odissi is a celebration of the divinity of being. The metaphysical import of the dance in the past and present is not limited to simple religious ritual, but aimed towards a transformational experience for audience and viewer.
The state of Orissa is known as the land of temples. Its dance reflects the sculpturesque poses adorning the walls of its myriad temples from 7th century Shivite to later Vaishnavite temples, especially the magnificent Jagannath Mandir at Puri built in the 11th century.
From the 9th century, there was a tradition of young women dedicated to service in the temples offering dance and song to the deity. These dancers who lived as servants of the deity, supported by temple funds, were called Maharis. In Jagannath Puri, the Maharis danced and sang only the songs of Krishan from poet Jayadeva’s Gita Govinda. Radha’s love for Krishna is generally considered a metaphor for the soul’s love for the union with the divine. The emphasis is on anticipation and yearning for union expressed in a rainbow of emotional nuance over manby beautiful and evocative poems, with the fulfilment of union treated relatively briefly in the text. The passion of Bhakti, or devotion, was articulated with sophistication in the aesthetics of music and dance. A vocalist, percussionist and musician keeping rhythm with small cymbals, or gini, always accompanied the dance, with additional musicians at times. This is the same model for acco, penitent of classical Odissi today.
The medieval neo-vaisnavism of the Chaitanya era created the right environment for dance to become a vehicle of expression to reach the people. The custom of having Odissi performed by boys dresses as girls enabled the devotional poetry to reach the general public outside temple precincts. Women dancing in public was not acceptable during that era, and sakhi bhava or worshipping Krishna as female devotees was an acceptable religious practice. Gotipuas are body dancers who begin training by the age of seven and generally end their dancing career by the time they reach eighteen. The Gotipuas performed at religious festivals, social gatherings, occasionally in temple courtyards, and had considerable patronage until the 19th century. The Oriya texts and the music and training of Gotipuas have provided a strong has for the revival of Odissi in the 20th century.
The 20th century revival of Odissi drew on what remained of centuries of rising and falling fortunes in the development of the dance, both within and outside the temple. Rediscovery of its artistic heritage was an integral part of a renaissance of national self-discovery that culminated in India’s independence from colonial rule. The ancient Mahari tradition, with its emphasis on dramatic expression and the emphasis on dramatic expression, and the medieval Gotipua tradition of boy dancers performing outside the temple precincts, which emphasized the more physical and even acrobatic aspects of the dance, were the foundation for the development of classical Odissi as a theatrical performance art on the stage as we know it today.
• Kalawati Pallavi
• Sabhinaya Nritya
• Muha-muhin Kisora
• Shankarabharanam Pallavi
• Radha Rani Sange Nache Murali Pani
• Jayadeva’s Geeta Govinda
• Khela Lola Khanjanakshi
• Kalidasa’s Nayikas
• Vedya Chhanda
• Braja Ku Chora Aasi Chi