The two days were choc-a-full with activities from ten am to ten pm! There were 8 workshops each day by visiting artistes and the first day kicked off with legendary Kelubabu’s son Ratikant’s workshop and show. Ratikant babu did one item – Jatayu Moksha, but in that epic piece from the Ramayana, when Jatayu intercedes with Ravana to get Sita released from his clutches, but in doing so has his wings clipped and dies in Rama’s arms but not before telling Rama who has abducted his wife Sita, Ratikant showed he is truly Kelubabu’s son, artistically. Perhaps, no other student of Kelubabu has absorbed or imbibed the dance ability for exceptional, even if lokadharmi abhinaya, as Ratikant has. His generous frame may not be an inspiration for size-zero dancers but his lightness of being, and foot; his quick-silver expressions and his exceptional sense of timing, proved why genes help. Ratikant babu can emerge as the best male dancer of the form in India, were he to control his frame, although like Bala amma, (or many a heavily set dancer like Swapnasundari today), the size of body was no limitation to depth of art. Ratikant was simply the outstanding dancer and delight of not only the festival but the season.
The finale came with Ratikant Mahapatra’s two group choreographic compositions. Son of Guru Kelucharan Mahapatra, he is also choreographing imaginatively group numbers with well trained Odissi dancers studying under him. Two years ago, during the 3rd International Odissi Conference and Festival at Bhubaneswar, I had an opportunity to witness his choreography to Aruna Sairam’s brilliant rendering of great Tamil litterateur Subramanya Bharati’s composition. The presence of Allah in poet’s life made experience unlimited with devotional fervour. And his song inspired dedication at the feet of the supreme being Allah. Ratikant has taken great care in fusing Odissi movements with Carnatic music in the depiction of Muslim consciousness. The integration of these three elements is indeed a pioneering effort on Ratikant’s part and a departure from the usual traditional Hindu mythology. It tries to bridge culturally and spiritually, the Muslim as well as the Hindu religious identity. The dancers showed the movements of praying namaz, bending on the floor, and it looked interesting. Aruna’s soulful singing indeed is the highlight giving an extra dimension to Ratikant’s choreography and his dancers execute essentially Odissi movements. In ‘Om’ group number, with simple movements Ratikant has attempted the impact of the sound OM. Beginning with birth of Universe, in all its multitude, out of primordial sound emerges the first light of the cosmos and the elements of sound and light are seen in life around us. Om is a point of confluence, where all knowledge meets with the essence of consciousness, the motive spring by which the mind and soul move in consonance in a glorious passage to super consciousness. It is an abstract concept and through Odissi movements, Ratikant has tried to express it to evocative music. In terms of concepts both the numbers are complimentary. However one would have preferred for a contrast expressional number with flavour of traditional Odissi.
The concluding item of the 'Samsmaranam' festival turned out to be the grand finale presentation. Titled 'Bhaja Govindam' from Adiguru Shankaracharya's composition, the abstract philosophical subject has been choreographed to an intricate and tightly woven composition by Guru Ratikant Mohapatra. This was an excellent performance by the disciplined dancers of Srjan who handled this complex subject with absolute felicity of synchronisation and a pleasing grasp of the intricacies of the choreography. The continuous applause was well deserved. The music composed by Lakshmikant Palit was of noticeable good quality.
The Srjan group rendering Ratikant Mohapatra’s choreography, projected a disciplined team of dancers combining well in Dasavatar set to Rakhal Mohanty’s score in Bhopali and Jhampa tala, and Lalita-Lavangalata” in Vasanta and Kalavati. The best of the recital, outside the Geetagovinda frame, was the Pallavi in raga Megh composed by Prodeep Das, performed by Rajashree and Manusmita.
Ratikant Mohapatra's new and innovative choreography 'Mrutyu' was presented. It was wonderful to see the overflowing crowd that filled the auditorium to capacity, standing in the aisle at two floors waiting eagerly to see the new production. An abstruse theme, Mrutyu, logically conceptualised by Ratikant, nicely scripted, with sensible light design by Jaydev Das and Sankrit lyrics by Dr. Manmohan Acharya, left no barriers in the audience's mind to understand this difficult theme. Adding to this, Laxmikant Palit's music with the use of uncommon instruments like saxophone and mandolin to Odissi was a treat to the ears. The characters of this dance drama, Mrutyu played by Rajashri Praharaj, Dharma by Rachna Rimjhim, Gyana by Bijaylaxmi Satapathy, Prema by Swagatika Sahani, Shanti by Manosmita Panda and the other dancers showed their good training. Their neat and well-synchronised movements deserve special mention. Ratikant must be commended for his continued efforts to carry forward his father's legacy.
The repertoire of Bubaneswar’s Srjan, composed by Guru Ratikant Mohapatra, started with an invocation of Shiva, then a pure dance piece and a final piece based on OM, the primordial sound of universal conciousness. It had the best group aesthetics in the sense that each dancer was equal in the group, which was collectively and seamlessly lost in dance as the dancers endeavoured to create temple postures with fluid lyrical motions and spiritual aesthetics. For me, this was a befitting end to two weeks of dance performances.
Odissi dance performances by Ratikanta and Sujata Mahapatra took audiences to a different world with the subtle abhinaya in choodamani pradanam and the group presentation in Pallavi and Allah Allah the contemporary pieces in Odissi format.
Ratikant, who is being hailed for his choreographies like Allah and Bhaja Govindam, presented his latest composition Barsha, based upon Rutu Samhara, the immortal work of Kalidas. It depicts the ecstasy and agony of a lovelorn lady and the world around her set against the backdrop of the romantic rains during the monsoon that has just set in. As the raindrops start dancing on the earth, the peacock, the deer, the snake and the elephant cannot stay behind. Joining them are thousands of flowers that keep on tossing against the wind. While Ratikant had harmoniously blended elements of lasya and tandav, besides bringing together pure dance with expressional dance into the piece that enhanced its beauty, Sujata seemed made for the composition. Her dance in trance was magical and mesmerising. The way she transforms into a mood or a character and then takes a smooth transition into the other is the hallmark of this star dancer. And eloquent Sujata executed it with ease.
Every year the Summer Workshop is organized from 1st June to July 31st at Srjan, an institution of research and training in Odissi Dance at Bhubaneswar, under Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra, the eminent and the most respected Guru in Odissi. This writer (Salil Dev) had the opportunity to take a few students of Mitali Kala Kendra, Guwahati in 1996 and 1998 for training in the Odissi dance Summer Workshop at Srjan. We met dedicated disciples from Brazil, America, Japan and Switzerland receiving training alongwith those from Calcutta, Bombay, Orissa and Guwahati. We had a feeling that the world had converged in the small ashram through a global vision of the Guru imparting training of the highest quality and rare purity of the students of the Odessa dance form.
Esthel Keshav, a student from Switzerland says " The training imparted at Srjan is very professional and each notation of dance, music, history is explained with care ".
The dance drama " Balyaleela " presented by students " Srjan " the dance school run by the Guru and his dancer son Ratikant, was a virtual treat.
The sound of music and rhythmic footfalls greets the ears as one enters the portals of " Srjan ". This is indeed a " dancing heaven " (as described by a student) for budding dancers and established exponents of Odissi dance.
Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra along with his dance troupe Srjan comprising seven accomplished dancers, performed at the Lakewood Senior High school here Oct' 26th,mesmerzing the audience with the sheer charm of the Odissi dance style. The troupe's other performances in California, Oct 25th in San Diego and at the Morris Dailey auditorium in San Joes Oct 27th were equally spellbinding and were highly appreciated by the audience. The dancers of Srjan-the company name signifying creation, primal in its ancient roots and yet ever blossoming anew.
The Odissi dance group of Padmabibhusan Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra regaled the audience with the performance par excellence at the Dhanwatey Rang Mandir on Thursday. The programme organized by Oriya Samaj, was a feast for art lovers, who had thronged the theatre.
"Allah Allah" choreographed by Ratikant showed good feel for music/dance coordination and brought several cultural streams together with Subramania Bharati's verses sung by Aruna Sairam in the Carnatic tradition, visualised through Odissi movements in a group version. The white costume and lighting highlighted the meditative mood. Sita Haran and Jatayu Moksha with Sujata Mohapatra and Ratikant, with the former as Sita and Ratikant as Jatayu and both taking on Ravana's role in turns, was dramatic with Lakshmi Kant Palit singing music composed by Raghunath Panigrahi. Siva stuti found students of Srjan dancing in flawless unison to Ratikant's movement designing.
An abhinaya piece- "Sun mana hari ka naam" choreographed by Guru Ratikant Mohapatra in Raga Mishra Kaushiki Kanada (Adi tala) was presented next followed by Subhramania Bharati's composition "Allah". Through this item the choreographer tried to create the national integration platform through Odissi dance of Hindu religion on Camatic music depicting Muslim culture. Choreographed by young Odissi maestro Ratikant Mohapatra, the performance unfolded the rich and varied shades of Odissi in all its fine contours.
The grandeur of Odissi classical dance was brought alive by 12 accomplished artistes of Bhubaneswar-based Sarjan troupe at the Tagore Theatre here today. The programme was brought to the city by the Pracheen Kala Kendra as a part of its golden jubilee celebrations. The visual treat in the kinetic phraseology of Odissi got off to a serene start with an invocatory Manglacharan in laudation of Lord Ganesh, ably choreographed by Guru Ratikant Mohapatra. He took the centrestage to present a solo dance composition Shiva Stuti, a prayer seeking the blessings of Lord Shiva. The aesthetic potential and elegance in choreography of Ratikant during the two-hour presentation displayed the imprints of his father and Guru, Padmavibhushan Kelucharan Mohapatra, foremost proponet of Odissi.