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Dancers win applause but vocalist’s allegation raises a stink

- Sunanda Patnaik alleges that the music, on which Kelucharan Mohapatra’s dance items are based, have ‘no parents’

Bhubaneswar, Dec. 23: It was a matter of cultural pride for the state capital as the best artistes from the worlds of dance and music were here yesterday.

Astounding dance performances by some of the biggest names of Odissi attracted a large gathering of connoisseurs at the concluding evening of the Odissi International. The Odissi festival, organised by city-based cultural organisation Samskritiki, came to a close at Rabindra Mandap on Saturday. This year, the festival was dedicated to revered Odissi guru Hare Krishna Behera, who had established the dance form in Delhi.

While the audience witnessed remarkable performances from over 100 young dancers, including the grand daughter of Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra, 14-year-old Preetisha, the gurus lived up to their name.

Aruna Mohanty presented a Ashtapadi written by the celebrated writer Jayadev, in which she successfully expressed the emotional textures of love and devotion.

Delhi-based Kavita Dwivedi, daughter of the late Odissi guru whom the festival was dedicated to, also performed another Ashtapadi in her distinct style.

One of the most fascinating recitals of the evening was by Sujata Mohapatra who depicted the various movements in all elements of nature when the monsoon arrives in her dance item Barsha.

The audience appreciated her refined steps and elegant presentation.

Vocalist in capital

Bhubaneswar was also overwhelmed with another great artiste’s presence here yesterday. Revered vocalist and composer Sunanda Patnaik was here to perform on the inaugural day of the Sixth Chausathi Yogini Mahotsav, which was held today. However, the legendary vocalist, who resides in Calcutta, was in a state of grief because of the present state of cultural affairs in Odisha.

“I do not sit and watch them,” she spoke of the Odissi recitals.

“Rabindra Mandap is day and night abuzz with these so-called cultural programmes. These acts are popularising the ancient art forms but not promoting them. To promote the ancient art forms, one needs to identify what culture really means,” she said.

On the question of classical stature being bestowed upon Odissi music, she said: “You wish to make Odissi music classical. Who denies? But you have to prove yourself first. Those who are promoting it are the ones who have not drank the waters of Ganga and Yamuna. What credential these consumers of packaged drinking water have?”

She reminisced about her association with Odissi exponent Kelucharan Mohapatra. “I had warned Kelu bhai that the music on which his dance was based had no parents.”

The 78-year-old vocalist also cocked a snook at the felicitation ceremonies. “If you wish to give awards, give to the family of the martyrs. Instead, artistes are queuing up for these awards,” she said.