Konark Festival : Grand Finale With Grandeur Of Odissi & Kathak

Kedar Mishra

Konark: Hamsadhwani or the sound of the Swan is basically a Carnatic raaga but subsequently has been adopted by both Hindustani and Odissi streams of music as their own. In Odissi context, a pure dance ‘Pallavi’ composition based on Raaga Hamsadhwani by two of our legends Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra and Pandit Bhubaneswar Mishra back in 1970s made it a part of Odisha’s cultural life. The last evening of the Konark Festival 2023 came alive with the celestial sound of that musical Swan. Kumkum Mohanty, one of the divas of Odissi dance, began her performance in the finale evening of the festival with a traditional Mancha Pooja and from there switched over to ‘Hamsadhwani Pallavi’.

As a classic composition, Hamsadhwani has its footprint in the collective memory of Odissi lovers. It was a neat and disciplined presentation. Somehow I had a question in my mind why the whole Pallavi was presented within two parallel fixed lines which diminished  the kinetic effect it should actually have? When I asked this question to Guru Kumkum Mohanty she explained that it was meant “to retain the critical layakari and authenticity of the composition”.

While appreciating her views, I still believe that in a vast stage like Konark you need to rework a composition to create it’s real effect. A little bit of mobility could have added more charm to this brilliant composition.

Followed by ‘Pallavi’, Kumkum Mohanty’s group Geeta Govinda presented a traditional ‘Abhinaya’ based on an episode from Biswanath Khuntia’s ‘Bichitra Ramayana’ which was virtually a solo by Mohanty.Bhabani’, a conceptual manifestation in dance of Devishakti was her concluding presentation.

The finale of the festival was a power-packed Kathak presentation by Luna Poddar and her Prerna Dance Group from Kolkata. The group began with a composition ‘Soorya Jyoti’, which was a complete package of light, music, movements and magic. The choreography was so full of vibrant and vigorous movements with perfect synchronisation of Gati, Taal and Lay.  Another two compositions: ‘Darbari’ and ‘Rang Basant’ uses all those enchanting elements of Kathak and making it a show of over powering energy.

With this curtain is down for the five-day-long Konark Festival 2023.

Before concluding the review, I have a very serious observation on Odissi performances of this year. In comparison to other dance presentations, Odissi looked dull, timid and out of focus. It was obvious that artists like Jaya Rama Rao, Praveen Kumar, Pallavi Krishnan, Anwesha Mahanta and Luna Poddar, who belong to other classical dance forms, took the festival seriously and came up with their best performances. Sadly, Odissi groups showed no commitment to put best forth their talents and creativity.

Kedar Mishra

Writer, Journalist & Critic

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