Kedar Mishra
The 15th Gunjan Dance and Music Festival started with nearly a hundred and fifty kids dancing on their own that went into chaos to settle finally into a perfect harmony. Little dancers of Gunjan Dance Academy, taught by Meera Das, presented a new choreography Krishna Kathamruta, a narrative dance piece.

Accommodating such a large number of dancers in a comparatively smaller Saheed Bhavan stage was itself a challenging task. The kiddish chaos was well managed and metamorphosed into an ecstatic choreography by the carefully groomed senior disciples of Meera. They made it a perfect show finally.

The festival began in Cuttack on November 19 with Gunjan dancers performing a grand narrative on the life of Sri Krishna. Acclaimed Odisssi duo Manoranjan and Minati Pradhan charmed the audience with Ragesree Pallavi and Ardhanariswara.

Finally Srijan, led by Ratikant Mohapatra, came with unquestionable perfection and lyrical compositions. Ratikant Mohapatra and Rajasree Praharaj presented Jatayu Mokhya, one of the tried and tested choreography of Guru Ratikant. Presenting the gallant sacrifice of Jatayu, who had the first battle against Ravana, was perfectly enacted by Ratikant. Young repertory of Srijan presented a neat and perfect Krishna Vandana.

Combining Radha Bhava and Meera Bhava, Meera Das set the tune for the second evening of Gunjan Dance and Music festival. Meera’s presentation was intricately woven and was presented with lyrical expressions. Madana Manohara Stotram, one of the finest vandana of lord Sri Krishna came alive through Meera’s lovely and lively movements, perfect expressions and poetic weaving of stage space. As a performer, she was a real enchantress.

The second presentation of Kathak by Anjana Jha was good to see, but was not so impressive. An ensemble of thavil and nadaswaram by Karoonamurthy was a new experience. In Odisha we are not regular listeners of thavil, but we still miss the madhurya part in taala compositions.

It is noteworthy that thavil is an auspicious percussion instrument played in the temples of southern India. Along with nadaswaram, it was too fast and was running so high for audience. Odissi mardal maestro Satchidananda Das came for five minutes to join the thavil players and brought back the madhurya – the sweetness of taalas. A final show with thavil and mardal, added by the grace of Odissi and beauty of Kathak. the festival ended with east, north and south Indian art forms coming together.

Veteran Odissi dancer Dr. Priyambada Mohanty Hezmadi, Actor-legislator Prashanta Nanda and Parliamentarian Pinaki Mishra were the guest for first evening. Minister of culture, tourism and co-operatives Prafulla Samal joined as chief guest in the closing day celebration. Coveted Nibedita Samman was conferred upon Mr. Sooryakrishnamoorthy, a veteran art promoter and organizer from Kerala. The city of Cuttack, which was the platform to revive Odissi as a neo Indian classical dance form, has been deprived of its past glory after the state capital shifted to Bhubaneswar. Thanks to Meera Das who continues the tradition with much care and passion.