She matches steps in India and beyond

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By SUNIL PATNAIK
  • Published 15.02.12
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Berhampur, Feb. 14: Danseuse Shalini Patnaik weaved magic with her nimble steps at an event organised by the Ganjam Kala Parishad.

The dancer’s 105-minute duet performance with Gotipua artiste-turned-Odissi dancer Rudra Prasad Swain cast a spell on the audience at the Kabisurya Rangamanch here.

“This is my first performance in Berhampur. I will also perform in Bhubaneswar, Mysore and Chennai later this month,” said the 27-year-old dancer.

Shalini, who was born and brought up in San Diego, was inducted into the world of Odissi at the age of five. The late Guru Gangadhar Pradhan, Aruna Mohanty, Manoranjan Pradhan and Yudhisthir Nayak from the Odisha Dance Academy, Bhubaneswar, trained her.

A degree holder in business management and economics with a minor in theatre arts from the University of California, Santa Cruz, Shalini won the title of Miss San Diego County — Fairest of the Fair in 2001.

At present, she is working as a project manager of an organic food company in the US and has been touring various parts of India to give more exposure to Odissi.

Shalini and her two elder sisters — Laboni and Sibani — popularly dubbed as the “Patnaik sisters”, have been propagating this dance form in the US and are among the leading Odissi exponents of her generation in the USA.

The California Arts Council awarded the Next Generation Artists grant to her for developing new Odissi steps in 2002. They choreographed and performed with superstar Madonna for the 1998 MTV Video Music Awards.

The Odisha Society of the Americas honoured Shalini and her sisters with the Kalashree Award for their contribution to arts in North America. Shalini is also a recipient of the Tommy Awards for dance from San Diego.

“We have performed more than 200 Odissi shows in America and have opened a centre for world music in California to propagate Odissi in 1980 where 40 students, mostly American, French and Canadian, are enrolled,” said Shalini.

Shalini’s parents, Purna Patnaik, who hails from Bijipur and is a scientist in the US, and Gopa, an academic counsellor, are proud of their daughters’ achievements.

“I feel proud that my daughters are propagating Odissi in different parts of the world,” said her father.

Shalini was accompanied in the pakhawaj and the mridanga by Bijay Kumar Barik, violin by Agnimitra Behera, in the flute by Soumya Ranjan Joshi and vocals by Rupak Kumar Parida.

This troupe and Shalini would perform across America for over two months from April 1.

Shalini has performed with Anoushka Shankar for her latest album Traveller in Spain. She has also performed on the occasion of Pandit Ravi Shankar’s 90th birthday celebration.

Among other major venues where she has performed are the Ravi Shankar Institute, Devdasi Festival and international Odissi dance festivals, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, London, and Centre for World Music Festival in Bali, Indonesia.