Daughter Kavita Dwibedi pays tribute to Guru Harekrishna Behera through annual festival
Odissi exponent Kavita Dwibedi organized the Saroha festival at the IIC on 19 August 2023 to honour the great legacy of her father, Guru Harekrishna Behera. Lord Jagannath was seated in the foyer in a flower rangoli. Kavita is a well-known choreographer and leading name in Odissi dance and carries forward her father’s legacy through her Sanchari Foundation.
|Mihir Natta and Suresh Sethi
The first to take the stage was Mihir Natta on the tabla. Accompanied by Suresh Sethi on the harmonium, Natta exhibited his expertise in taals.
The next performer was Preetisha Mohapatra. Preetisha is the grand-daughter of Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra and the daughter and disciple of Gurus Ratikant and Sujata Mohapatra. She wore a vivid blue costume.
She started her performance with a pallavi, a technical elaboration in pure dance. The piece was in raag Chandrakosh and taal pancham savari, with the taal structure of 4, 3, 4, 4. Her chauka and tribhanga were graceful, hastas precise with expansive movements, footwork rhythmic and perfect. The feet moved in tandem or alternately. She covered the stage with movements and spring-like jumps. As she took stances, she stood with the front foot on poised on the toes.
The second piece was a Ram bhajan, ‘Shri Ram Chandra Kripalu Bhajman’. In the sancharis, the Sita swayamvar was enacted. The poet was Sant Tulsidas, and he described the attributes of Lord Rama. This was in ragamallika, taal adi. The lotus eyes, hands and feet, and his body’s hue, like that of a blue lotus, were shown by precise hastas. The Sita swayamvar was depicted in the sanchari bhava, when the condition for Sita’s marriage were changed by King Janaka after she had lifted the Shiva dhanush with ease. The evocative abhinaya showed the haughty kings walking in, saying that they could break the dhanush in the blink of an eye. Preetisha’s gait when portraying the contenders was self-explanatory. And then Ravana walks in to claim Sita, but cannot even move the dhanush after first trying to lift with one hand, then both hands, and then his entire might. They all turn back dejected. Ram humbly gets up for his attempt after bowing in pranaam to his guru. With ease, he strings the dhanush and it breaks into two. A shy Sita comes with the jayamala and puts it around Ram’s neck. She puts the earth of his feet to her forehead and both are married. Ram is adorned with ornaments, mukut, tilak etc. In his strong arms he holds his Dhanush, with which he wipes out evil demons. He is the one who killed Ravana by shooting an arrow that hit him below his navel. Preetisha depicted the fight between Ravana and Ram and the final dying posture. She ended the piece by bowing to the lord.
Preetisha has an impeccable lineage. Her legendary grandfather, father and mother have guided and trained her. She would already have had the knowledge required. But in order to become a soloist, she has had to hone her technique to match their perfection on one hand and on the other hand, her abhinaya has had to be practised to make it expressive and apt to depict various characters. This young dancer is the torchbearer of her family tradition.
|Sudhir Kumar and Himesh Parcha
|Sudhir Kumar and Himesh Parcha
The next to follow were a duo who performed Chhau, Sudhir Kumar and Himesh Parcha, disciples of Guru Santosh Nair. Chhau is a dance form which incorporates battle movements. Sudhir and Himesh had great coordination and muscle control. They were dressed in white aharyam. They moved holding swords and dhaals, flexing their muscles, rotating their legs, emitting battle cries, spinning and rotating, jumping and twisting their feet.
Kavita is doing a great job of continuing her father’s legacy and making a name for her institute. Besides, she has been giving opportunities to young dancers as well.
Pics: Anoop Arora