Bhubaneswar: “Today Odissi dance has truly become a global identity for the land of Odisha and its people. This Indian classical dance form is attracting art lovers and common people beyond any geographical boundary. However, Odissi dance without Odissi music is nothing. Odissi music is the soul of Odissi dance.” Veteran artists and art critics of International repute have voiced the same during the inauguration ceremony of ‘Odissi International-2011’.

‘Odissi International’, the annual Odissi dance event organized by ‘Samskritiki’, was inaugurated on Sunday forenoon at Sangeet Mahavidyalaya Auditorium, Bhubaneswar. Veteran Odissi dancers and gurus like Dr. Priyambada Mohanty (Hejamadi), Kumkum Mohanty, Dr. Minati Mishra, Ritha Devi, veteran Mardal Guru Banamali Moharana and senior art critic Sunil Kothari graced the occasion.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Priyambada Mohanty said, in the past it had taken a lot of time and efforts for the gurus and artists to prove Odissi as a leading classical dance form in the national forum. After a long devotion, dedication and hard work, today, the world is mesmerized on the footsteps of Odissi. She recollected her days as an Odissi dancer and highlighted on the struggle to raise Odissi to classical status. (In fact, Hejamadi happens to be the first artist to perform Odissi in any national platform. She performed the dance during Youth Festival at New Delhi in the year 1956, where the art form was highly appreciated.)

“The sweetness of the dance also lies in the music. Odissi dance without Odissi music is nothing”, said veteran Odissi dancer and Guru Kumkum Mohanty.

Ms. Mohanty advised every artist to first learn Odissi music before making steps in the dance. Odissi music is the soul of Odissi dance. Thus without understanding the music one can never perform his or her best”, she added.
She also advised the dancers to learn the language so that the content can be well reflected in the act and body-language.

Ritha Devi, one among the prime disciples of Guru Pankaj Charan Das, became emotional on the stage while speaking on the old-golden days of her career. She happens to be the first Odissi artist who took her Guru to Mumbai and had a series of performances over there. She was also instrumental in carrying and propagating Odissi in the land of Europe and America after Indrani Rehman.

“Be faithful to your Guru and stay away from the habit of guru-swapping. Do not learn the art by bits and pieces from the Guru. Rather learn the whole Gharanaof the Guru”, Ritha Devi advised the new generation artists. She also remembered the role of Guru Debaprasad Dash, Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra, Sanjukta Panigrahi and others for not only establishing Odissi as a leading Indian classical dance form but also for taking the art to a height of true global recognition.

Among the other dignitaries on the stage, Guru Minati Mishra, veteran Odissi dancer; Guru Banamali Moharana, veteran Mardal player; Sunil Kothari, senior art critic; Pratap Das, Odissi promoter and organizer in US and Ashok Tripathy, Secretary Tourism and Culture, remembered the rich tradition of the art. Kedar Mishra, Convenor of the festival, welcomed the guests and artists.

“Odissi International was launched in 2010 with an objective to bring together the global Odissi family to the land of Odissi, i.e. Odisha” says Mr. Shyamahari Chakra, the Director of the Festival. The Festival has truly gone global. This year 170 artists are participating from about 18 countries. “It is such a platform that showcases both young budding talents in front of veterans dancers and Gurus and vice versa”, adds Mr. Chakra.

“More importantly, the festival is gaining appreciation from the dancer community and Gurus worldwide as it aims to promote solo performance”, says Mr. Kapilas Bhuyan, art critic and filmmaker. “Solo performances gives opportunity and throws challenge to any artist and helps him/her to grow”, Mr. Bhuyan adds.

On day one of the festival, young and acclaimed artists like Shreyashree Mazumdar, Preetisha Mohapatra, Rahul Acharya, Kunjalata Mishra, Indu Vijaya, Brinda Rani, Jyoti Rout, Sonali Mishra, Prabhat Kumar Swain, Kishori Dasi and others staged their performance.

The Festival opens at 2pm and runs up to 9.30pm daily. It will conclude on 22nd December.