By Kedar Mishra
Defining the still point where the dance is, T.S.Elliot, pioneer of modern world poetry draw a paradoxical line of space and movements. So he composes this line- there would be no dance and there is only dance. Sitting in a festival of dance for three days in the historic city of Cuttack I go on reflecting the lines of Elliot and trying to identify if there is any such link of Elliot’s thought with Indian classical dance. Gunjan Dance and Music Festival brings us an opportunity to watch a seamless flow of dance by dancers of various streams belonging to a diverse age group. Gunjan Dance Academy, one of the leading institutes of Odissi in Cuttack continues to organize this festival for last seventeen years. From 18th to 20th of November 2013, Gunjan Dance and Music Festival brought up various genres of Indian classical dance and music, focusing a bit more on Odissi.

Major Share by the Host

In the festival major share has been taken by the host Gunjan Dance Academy. Almost all the students of Gunjan were present on stage to showcase a series of Gunjan productions. Meera Das, the renowned dancer and director democratically distributed choreographic shares to all her students, marginalizing herself as organizer and visualiser. There are few new compositions which came out extremely well and few needs a little more polishing. Meera’s new pure dance based compositions Sringara and Nritta are well designed and knitted with great aesthetic care. Their annual production Sri Rama Bhakti Kathamruta, a simple dance drama is well crafted but needs a little more attention to portray the between the lines depth. Gunjan girls are no doubt one of the finest Odissi groups in Odisha and they do have beauty, talent, grace, power, skill, training..everything. What they lack is a little bit of seriousness and in depth thinking. The festival was a brilliant opportunity to evaluate the production skill of a professional group and to see their potential to make a difference in future.

That Mystic Silence

Aruna Mohanty, accomplished Odissi dancer and choreographer presenting her two parts show- Barsha Abhisara and Viswa Prakasha, on the second evening of the festival clearly marked her presence of deepest expressions. Taking few couplets from Bhima Bhoi’s poem (greatest tribal poet of Odisha and whose humanitarian approach in Indian poetry is unparallel) Aruna crafted out the evolution and spiritual possibilities of humanity in her neatly drafted choreography. It was one of her deeply involved Abhinaya, which brings Goosebumps in audience. Earlier Madhusmita Mohanty and Ramesh Jena presented a Navarasa as one of the best complementing pairs. Showing all the aesthetic moods one by one, they skillfully display their power of Odissi wisdom.

Grace of Bharatanatyam

Poornima Ashok, Bengaluru based Bharatanatyam dancer and Gaana Smirnova from Ukrain were there as invited artistes. Gaana is a devoted dancer and she shows immense promise and deeper understanding of Indian sensibility in her dance. Poornima is a witty dancer who knows how to control body movement and she is extremely poetic in her moves and gestures.

The only musical show led by Srinivas Satpathy in Flute is gripping, but they need to work hard to create a real harmony. Coveted Nivedita Samman of the festival has been conferred upon Guru Banamali Moharana, the greatest Mardala Maestro.