Dhauli Mahotsav 2011 begins with a dramatic theme presentation on the historical narration of the Dhauli, the famous hill which was the silent witness of one of the most horrific war and a great metamorphosis of Ashoka, the Great.

“Why are you so silent, O Dhauli?” Classic Odia poem of late Padmacharan Pattnaik echoes as a question at the foot hill of historical Dhauli hill and dumb Dhauli answers back; “I am Dhauli, witness of a glorious past and have seen metamorphosis of a cruel king in to a great peace keeper.”

Yes, Dhauli narrates the story of Ashoka, the Great. Dhauli-Kalinga Mahotsav at the shadow of Dhauli peace pagoda near Bubaneswar launched with a descriptive theme performance by the artistes of host Odisha Dance Academy. From this year Dhauli festival and Kalinga festival (a festival on martial dance organized by Department of Tourism, Government of Odisha in collaboration with Art Vision, an institute led by Illeana Chitarist, an acclaimed Odissi and Chhau dancer) has merged in to one.

Here is a stage where classical, folk and martial dance forms come together. From 10th of December to 14th of December, the festival draws a flow of tourists, connoisseurs and art lovers.

Dancing like a chariot

In the inaugural evening host team Odisha Dance Academy opened the show with two beautiful compositions choreographed by Guru Aruna Mohanty. Aditya Archana, an invocation to Sun God was composed with aerobic style, rightly borrowing the formations from Gotipua and polished with great care. It was an aesthetic delight to see Sun God riding a chariot with seven horses. Beautiful bodywork and vigorous movements.

Second presentation was Vande Mataram. Whenever this composition comes on stage we remember late Sumanta Mohanty, one of the finest music composer, who was passed away few years back. For Odissi community it is a souvenir from late Sumanta.

Rajendra Gangani came to stage with a slow invocation number and shifted to drut tin taal. Neat foot work, powerful jhatkas and good chakkars. His group presented a theme on divinity. Good co-ordination. Male dancers were really very good. A mega Gotipua show enthralls the audience with their powerful Bandhas and energetic bodyworks.

A Song for the Mother Earth

Few of them came and snatch away the greenery from her. Few others came and ran away wounding her beauty. The human greed plunders mother earth and she stands still as a helpless mother. It was a very touchy and moving story depicted in Manipuri style by Priti Patel and her group.

Thematically, it was extraordinarily good and a very creative choreography indeed. Blending classical Manipuri with martial Thangta, Priti created a perfect atmosphere. Superb energy and a terrific mix of Raudra, Karuna, Shanta and Veera rasas. A complete choreography. A fulfilling experience.

Nupur, a Bhubaneswar based Odissi school, presented a drill like Odissi and deserves hardly any comment. Danda Nata from Ganjam was the final attraction.

Tradition as Innovation

Tradition can be so refreshing, so enchanting and can be contemporary. That has been proved by Meera Das and her young students of Gunjan Dance Academy, Cuttack. A beautiful Mangalacharan designed in a different style, weaving Pahandi of lord Jagannath creates a pure spiritual atmosphere.

Its an innovation within the tradition. Pahandi and Ratha Yatra is the most auspicious happening in the cultural life of Odisha, so it was a befitting and well conceived Mangalacharana.

Meera presented NRITTA, a pure dance number and it was a brilliant blending of Bandha and Sthayi. The Gunjan girls really created a magic by their pure and energetic body movements. Hats off to Meera for her superb Bol. She is an exception of her generation who is equally good at Music. The Nritta bols were just superb. “Nachanti range srihari…” an impressive Abhinaya and finally a soul satiating Shanti Mantra. It can be named as the best Odissi show in this festive session.

Kuchipudi, by acclaimed dancer Vaijayanti Kashi and her group, comes with very neat works. Taking three pure and traditional items Vaijayanti presented the original flavor of Kuchipudi. Started with a prayer to the presiding deity of Kuchipudi Village, Bala Tripura Sundari. Devi stotram and Putana Badha were other two heart catching numbers by Vaijayanti and her team.

An evergreen Utsav Das, the famous Ghodanacha guru mesmerizes the audience by his humor and wit, along with energetic horse dancing.

In the past couple of years, Dhauli Mahotsav has grown and it has also been contributing to tourist attraction towards this world famous destination. It is no doubt that the major credit goes to Odisha Dance Academy, specifically to Guru Aruna Mohanty whose tireless effort made this possible.