By Kedar Mishra

Artistes performing at the eighth death anniversary Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra in Bhubaneswar on Saturday
Artistes performing at the eighth death anniversary Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra in Bhubaneswar on Saturday
Undoubtedly, he was a legend, whose life becomes a never-ending inspiration for Odissi dancers of the world. Yes, it was he who set the Odissi dance form on a global stage with its absolute glory and faithful brilliance. Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra, the name itself is a book of artistic excellence. Taking Odissi dance from local to global and setting up a high order standard, was the real contribution of Guruji. Senior disciples of Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra organized a befitting show of tribute in the capital city of Bhubaneswar and brought back the sweetest memories of a great genius. Illeana Chitarist, Meera Das, Sikata Das, Pranati Mohanty, Muktilata Pal, Manoranjan Pradhan, Itisree Dwivedi, Nandini Ghoshal and young students of Guruji’s own institution Srjan came together to pay their dancing tribute by presenting few of his masterly compositions.

A Master for Ever

The show opened up with a full length video presentation of Guruji’s own performance on Pt. Balakrishna Das’s immortal composition Dinabandhu ehi ali sree chhamure…. What a stroke, what a masterly presentation. His prayer and worship to lord Jagannath can never be told as a dance number, it was pure divinity. His soul was dancing, not his body. One can see the unseen foot prints of divinity in every movement of his. It was grace, perfection and brilliance woven in one. Watching him in his absence brought his memories back and it flowed as tears from many a eyes.

Complex and Courageous

Guruji composed a very complex and pure dance based on Raag Bagesree and named it as Gati Veda in 1971. it was choreographed on Kumkum Mohanty. Using very complex Taal patterns and speedy – changeable footwork, he tried to explore various Jaati. Gativeda Pallavi was picked up by Meera Das, Muktilata Pal and Manoranjan Pradhan as their tribute to Guruji. Pt. Bhubaneswar Mishra and Guruji’s union is always mesmerizing. The soul stirring music and complex body geometry of dancers unfold mystical mathematics of pure dance. The trio used their individual skill and merged into a group with subtle fluidity. Grace and speed hardly goes together, but in this composition it was highly complementary.

Lyrical and Eternal

Another attraction of the evening came up as a shorter version of Kavisurya Baladev Ratha’s classical master piece Kishor Chandra Nanda Champu. The divine union of Radha and Krishna is narrated with poetic brilliance. This choreography is a rare gem of Guruji. Exquisitely lyrical and sweet movements made this one a master piece. It was heartening to see Pranati Mohanty and Nandini Ghoshal as Krishna and Radha. They looked really cute and were aptly joined by Illeana and Itisree Dwivedi as Sakhis. The seniors playing in a dance drama, was a pleasant show. They were surrounded and complemented by young and well groomed dancers of Srjan. Gruruji in his inimitable style incorporated the comic character of Madhu Mangala who represents Hasya and also elements of surprise of Aprakrita Prema Leela (the divine sports of love).

Sikata Das presented Tori Sharana Galire Murali… in solo format. It was simple and sweet. Another nice solo presented at the beginning was by by Illeana Chitarist. One must complement Illeana for religiously organizing this event on every 7 th of April to present the maestro’s highly rich repertory. The style and aura of Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra came up as a refresher through this beautiful event.