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Govt boost to Odissi centre

- Changes to be visible in a month, promises official

Bhubaneswar, Jan. 19: The state government will pursue the original objectives of the Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra Odissi Research Centre to promote Odissi dance and music and give more emphasis on research.

The Telegraph had published a report on January 13 on the dismal state of affairs in the research institute, which is headed by none other than chief minister Naveen Patnaik.

Several prominent Odissi dancers have expressed concern about the pathetic state of affairs of the premier Odissi institution.

They rued the fact that no visible research, documentation, new choreographies and compositions have emerged from the institute in the past decade. The centre has even failed to produce notable solo dancers.

Director of culture department Sushil Das, who recently took charge as the centre’s chief executive director, said a lot of changes would be made in the administration and new people would be hired.

“We will update the records and documents we have. Important books will be published again and CDs brought out. We will also revamp the functioning of the centre by laying emphasis on research now,” he said.

“The changes will be visible in a month’s time,” he added.

Das also assured that the proposed Odissi museum would come up on the centre’s compound for sure. A central committee had rejected the proposal last year after a clerk with limited knowledge on Odissi presented the project.

“Six months ago, we sent the proposal again and this time, some experts will be coming over to the centre and we will ensure that the museum comes up soon,” he said.

Launched in 1986 as a premier institution for research and documentation of Odissi, the centre has slowly deviated from its main objective. Recently, for over a week, the entire building was bereft of any staff except for an old peon who said that all officials were off to Rourkela to witness a music fest hosted by the centre. There was no one to supervise the ongoing construction for an auditorium and pavements inside the compound.

Veteran Odissi exponent and author of two volumes on Odissi’s grammar Odissi Nrutya Sarani compiled during her tenure as the chief executive officer of the institute, Kumkum Mohanty, said that the centre was doing nothing other than hosting festivals at the moment.

“They have stopped reprinting the books. Nothing new has been published from this centre. Where is the research and where are the staff capable of supervising research at the centre! They are only hosting festivals every now and even then the footfall is hardly 30 owing to poor selection of artistes. The chief minister must take steps as the chairman of the centre to do justice to the word ‘research’ in the centre’s name,” said Mohanty.

Switzerland-based senior Odissi exponent Minati Mishra said: “An institution named as a research centre should be a highly acclaimed establishment and not be just another version of a teenage dancer’s dance school.”

Sujata Mohapatra, another dancer, who was taught at the centre when Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra was there as faculty, said: “It is my alma mater and I would say that recently I watched a performance of a group from there led by Muktilata Pal. This sequence ‘Ekamra lila’ was beautiful. So the centre is doing some good. But yes, there could be proper guidance of senior dancers and strict administration to manage the affairs,” she said.


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