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Odissi centre sits idle for a decade

Bhubaneswar, Jan. 12: In the course of the past decade, no research, documentation, new choreographies and composition have emerged from the almost 30-year-old Guru Kelcuharan Mohapatra Odissi Research Centre. The centre has even failed to produce notable solo dancers.

Set up as an autonomous institution in 1986 by the state government to promote and propagate the Odissi dance form and Odissi music and conducting research on the dance and music forms, the promises the Centre began with, have all fallen flat.

Chief minister Naveen Patnaik is the chairman of the institution.

Prominent institutes such as Srjan that Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra had set up after quitting teaching at the centre, and Odisha Dance Academy founded by Guru Gangadhar Pradhan have produced some renowned Odissi dancers, new choreographies and to some extent, crated archived videos of famous gurus and dancers.

But, the centre can hardly claim any such activity in the last 10 years. It has mostly been involved in dance festivals with ordinary artistes and for thin audiences.

Only some clerical officials keep the institution running and after Odissi exponent Kumkum Mohanty, there has not been any prominent dancer involved in its affairs.

Veteran musician Ramhari Das was the chief executive officer till recently. But now, culture director Sushil Das has been inducted in that position.

The archives are full of VHS tapes, most of which do not work because they have not been taken proper care of. The library does not have many important books on Odissi dance and music and is usually a disappointment for any researcher.

No fellowships or scholarships are offered at the Centre and the lavish hostel is empty. Yet, a new mini auditorium has been constructed. The centre could not get clearance for an Odissi museum from the Centre.

“The Odissi Research Centre has been the worst cultural institution of the state that has been created to waste public money. It has become a mere event management centre,” said Shyamhari Chakra, a dance critic.

The centre was established with the aim to propagate all the three styles of Odissi — Guru Kelu Charan style, Guru Pankaj Charan style and Guru Deba Prasad style.

But it runs classes for amateur dancers and special training on these three styles is hardly imparted.

“I had compiled two volumes of a book on the grammar of Odissi, called the Odissi Nrutya Sarani. But the centre is not reprinting new editions. No books or research journals are published now. What is the chief minister, who is the chairman, doing about this institute? After all, apart from Lord Jagannath, people outside the state and country recognise Odisha for Odissi dance,” he said.