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Steps shine at Konark

Bhubaneswar, Dec. 3: Performances by renowned dancers of various classical forms are attracting tourists to the Konark festival, a national-level classical dance festival that is hosted with the Sun temple as its backdrop for the past 22 years. The five-day event got off to a colourful start on Saturday.

On the inaugural day, veteran Odissi dancer Madhavi Mudgal from Gandharva Mahavidyalaya, New Delhi, performed with her troupe. The rhythmic movements of the dancers during the dance item, Pallavi, were striking. An episode from celebrated Sanskrit poet Jayadev’s Gita Govinda that portrayed the mischief of Krishna with the gopis and the love and passion of Radha and her friends was performed in a dramatic sequence. Another drama based on “Ka” and “Kha” Champu, the typical Odia songs composed by Kabi Surya Baldev Rath, was also presented. The recital concluded with an intense spiritual composition, Moksha.

Mudgal and her troupe were accompanied on vocals by Purna Chandra Majhi and Mani Kuntala Bhowmik, on the pakhawaj by Gandhi Malik, on the flute by Srinibas Satpathy and on the sitar by Mohmed.

Famous dancers Raja and Radha Reddy presented an elaborate Kuchipudi recital. From Devi Stutee to Natya Tarangini, the artistes showcased a wide range of compositions.

However, there were mixed reactions in the audience to the tarana they performed in Kathak style during the Kuchipudi recital.

On the second day, New Delhi-based artiste Bharati Shivaji from the Centre of Mohiniattam gave a string of group performances that touched themes such as Sopana, Mukhachalam and Padam. Odissi dancer Meera Das and her disciples from Cuttack-based Gunjan Dance Academy also gave a charming performance on Sunday.

Every year, the festival attracts a huge turnout of connoisseurs from far and wide. While the festival stages some the best performances of various classical dance forms of the country every year, “exorbitant prices of accommodation and other facilities” at Konark are being increasingly criticised by the visitors.

“The performances were beautiful. We come here every year to see the classical dances in their authentic form. But, I am a retired bank employee and the rising cost of accommodation at the yatri nivas here is burning a hole in my pocket. This year, I am paying Rs 2,200 for staying at the yatri nivas every day against Rs 500 last year,” said a dance connoisseur who has come here from Chennai.

Prominent artistes such as Bharatnatyam exponent Mallika Sarabhai, Sattriya dancer Anita Sharma and many others will also perform at the festival.