In this, the 29th consecutive year of the Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra Award Festival, we celebrate once again, with humility and gratitude, the receiving of a priceless gift. The gift of the valued legacy of an age-old dance and music tradition. The gift of knowledge and teaching from my father and our Guruji, a gift that no other good fortune can match.
And in this 29th year running, we are hosting a seven-day festival in place of the annual five-day event. For me, this 25 year journey has been an eventful, often tiring yet always rewarding experience. After Guruji's demise in 2004, I have accepted the multiple responsibilities of running Srjan day in and day out, embarking on the tempestuous seas of new choreography, performing solo and with my repertoire group across India and outside, and appearing before you as the host of the Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra Award Festival.
I attribute all this joy and success on my creative journey, to my immensely committed and dedicated team. That Srjan today is a brand synonymous with excellence and professionalism in the realm of Odissi, is a testament to the sheer hard work and commitment of the entire Srjan family- the coming together of the choreographer, dancers, light designer, script writer, music composer, musicians, support staff, and all others involved from the conception of an idea to its premier on stage. I thank all members of the Odissi fraternity, past and present ensemble members, artistes, Guruji's numerous disciples, the people of Odisha, and our well-wishers and audiences across the globe, for being a part of our journey of Art, and showering us with unbridled love, respect and sincere appreciation for our work. The Srjan family and I remain truly grateful, and dedicate this 29th Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra Award Festival to our revered Guruji.
Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra founded Srjan in 1993. And paramount among the many initiatives close to his heart was the annual "Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra Award". In memoriam, we remember his affection and abiding concern for fellow artistes and colleagues in Dance, Theatre, Music, and Cinema.
The Award Festival has always been organised with one specific aim - to create and sustain awareness of our classical traditions in dance and music. In this, we at Srjan have always shared our Guruji's deep interest in Hindustani and Carnatic Art forms and his known enthusiasm for presenting artistes from other creative areas. On his tours abroad, he had met, interacted, and performed alongside some of the biggest names in Indian Classical Arts. Today, we try to maintain that particular enthusiasm in providing a viable platform and ambience for a number of quality artistes from all over India.
It is widely accepted that it was the revered Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra who almost single-handedly resurrected Odissi dance from near extinction. Paramount among the many initiatives closest to his heart was the annual "Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra Award" and in memoriam, we remember his affection and abiding concern for fellow artistes and colleagues in the plastic and performing Arts. The Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra Award was instituted in the year 1995 by Shri Ratikant Mohapatra to confer recognition on individuals for their contribution to the fields of Dance, Music, Cinema and Theatre. At its inception 29 years ago, the award amount was a humble Rs.10,000/-. Since 2010 the festival has a respectable allocation of Rs.50,000/-. In the interim (2000 to 2009) as many as 28 awardees received Rs.25,000/- each. Since 2016, the festival has had a respectable allocation of Rs.100,000/- for each awardee. Till date, 64 such luminaries have been conferred with the Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra Award.
Srjan derives its inspiration from the fountainhead of the Odissi dance of our times-Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra. In his own life Guruji demonstrated an unparalleled dedication to his craft, to his performance, to his students. In instituting the Yuva Prativa Samman, Srjan's primary focus is to revive the all important role of the solo dancer in the classical idiom; it is the solo performance in Indian classical dance which unveils the very soul of classical dance and brings to life the individual brilliance that the dancer lives for, and strives for, constantly. The effort is to instill a continuing sense of purpose in the young dancer, a determination to overcome all odds, to push oneself to the very peak of perfection, time after time. The award carries a cash award of Rs. 25,000/- and a citation.