Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra was born on January 26, 1924 in Raghurajpur, Puri. His father was a Khola (drum) player in Jatras (open air roving theaters of Odisha). As a child he loved to watch the dancers of the jatras dancing to the rhythm of the drums. Unable to stop Kelucharan from learning Gotipua dance, his father allowed him to learn the art under Balabhadra Sahu and finally abandoned him to Guru Sri Mohan Sundar Goswami and his Rasa party. There he learned many form of arts starting from dancing, singing, acting, stage craft and choreography. After twelve years when he left the theater, life became hard and he earned living by rolling bidis and watering betel groves. Finally he managed to join Kavichandra Kali Chandra Pattnaik’s Annapurna Theatre in Cuttack and earned a good living. There his work was to set stage, act occasionally and play percussion. Life continued evenly until his major breakthrough with the play Vasmasura. He was an instant hit. With few more dances he became a master of the art. He choreographed the art and laid the foundation of Odisdi dance.
His extraordinary talent won him many awards like Sangeet Natak Academy award in 1966, Padmashree in 1972, Padma Bhushan in 1989, and Padma Vibhushan in 2000. Finally he was in the road of fame, from rolling bidis and watering betel groves to a great legend. The credit of reviving the classical dance form in 20th century goes to him.