By Kedar Mishra
Bhubaneswar: April 21, 2012 evening at Rabindra Mandap, the cultural heart of Bhubaneswar was no way like the evenings of line up events. It was an evening with sharp differences. Not like any cultural event, it was a highly focused show which was presented with all sincerity to visualize the best of classical imagination. Cuttack based Gunjan Dance Academy led by ace and internationally acclaimed dancer – choreographer Meera Das presented Gunjan Sandhya, an event to showcase few brilliant and well picked up Odissi compositions by Meera. As a prime disciple of legendary master Kelucharan Mohapatra Meera learnt the heart hooking art and slowly turned out as a brilliant choreographer with unlimited promise. The evening showcased six dance compositions covering the traditional repertoire of Odissi from Mangalacharan to Moksha. It was traditional, but in a way innovative. Creating few innovative ruptures Meera redesigned and redefined the established traditional approach of Odissi. One could find out the brilliant vision of a dance composer in her understanding and approach. Meera deeply rooted into the soil of tradition invented new means and style to ventilate her new age ideas. In Mangalacharan, Sri Jagannath’s Pahandi Bije was shown as a cultural way of life. It is not only a religious ritual, it is more like an identity moving up our innermost spiritual quest.
Aroma of Innocence
The show was basically presented by a group of very young and promising Odissi dancers, trained under Meera’s stewardship. The trained and toned body language of dancers was like fresh poeticism. Working on new compositions with a fresh group of dancers was in itself a challenging task. To the delight of the audience the dancers came up like a bunch of flower dancing in a soothing breeze; so natural, so sweet. Gunjan is completely a girls troupe which acts as their strength. In Gunjan Sandhya among the six presented dance pieces, except one solo, rest five compositions were group performances.
Sakhi as Enchantress
Meera Das as the prime mover of this event presented one solo and also became a part of three major group works. Her solo presentation based on Jayadeva’s Geeta Govinda was the lifeline of her choreographic work. In classical format composing a solo is a real acid test. In a group you can escape in the crowd, but solo is the toughest challenge for every composer. While composing Jayadeva’s Astapadi birachita chatu bachana…, Meera equally focused on body movements, foot works and expression. In this particular Astapadi, Sakhi is insisting Radha to follow her for the divine union with Krishna- Anusara radhike…. In the complex theatric narrative, all the three characters (Radha, Krishna and Sakhi) were portrayed with careful balance. The Abhinaya part was simply superb. In the beginning Meera along with her students recasted the Ratha Yatra in a unique style. Her lead role in Ahalya was also very impressive.
Dance of Joy
We can divide the whole presentation in two parts. Expressional parts were usually good, so also were the pure dance numbers. Meera as a trained Bandha artiste (Bandha is a lesser known aerobic Odissi form which she learnt from her first Guru Gangadhar Nayak) used the complex formations in her new art works. Usually she is highly comfortable in composing pure dance pieces. Nritta ( an amalgamation of Sthayi and Bandha), Desh Pallavi (besed on Desh raga and roopak taal, using complex jaatis) and Shanti Mantra (Moksha- mixture of pure and expressional dance) manifested her brilliant skill to create captivating compositions. The artistes Shibangi, Isha, Lopamudra, Malabika, Sasmita, Pushpa, Ananya, Payal, Shibani and others made the evening an enchanting one.