Culture & Heritage

Odissi Exponent Madhavi Mudgal Remembers Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra Ahead Of Konark Festival

Published by
OB Bureau

Bhubaneswar: A day before her group’s performance at the Konark Festival, Odissi exponent Madhavi Mudgal recollected fond memories of Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra.

A strong believer in the guru-shishya paramapara, Mudgal said, “Guruji took care of me like a father when I would come to Cuttack for my training. Be it fixing the mosquito net or ensuring vegetarian food is cooked for me in the house, he would take care of me lovingly since I was from outside.”

“Since 1979, Guruji started performing on stage. But earlier, when he was teaching us he would often refuse to dance on stage citing old age. Later, he became renowned worldwide for his Abhinaya, ashtapadhi. People in other countries don’t understand Sanskrit but the power of his Abhinaya was so strong that they all absolutely loved his dancing and were mesmerized,” she recollected.

A known traditionalist, Madhavi was surrounded by great artistes since childhood. She was born to professor Vinay Chandra Maudgalya, the founder of Gandharva Mahavidyalaya, a foremost classical dance school in the country.

One of the earliest students of Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra, Madhavi had initially started learning Bharatnatyam and Kathak. “When I was born in the 60s, people in Delhi hardly knew about Odissi. Delhi started knowing through Indrani Rahman, who would add one piece of Odissi to her performances. Later, Sanju apa (Sanjukta Panigrahi) and Kumkum Das (now Mohanty) started performing. I saw them performing and the subtlety and sculptural poses of Odissi drew me to the dance form,” she said.

Speaking about the Konark dance festival, Madhavi said that her group will present four dance pieces beginning with an invocation to Lord Ganesha. The piece will showcase Ganesha in his dancing form. The second performance will be a pallavi, composed by Pandit Gopal Chandra Panda and Banamali Maharana, the doyen of ‘Pakhawaj.’ The next recital will be based on an Odia poem by Gopal Krishna Pattnaik. The last item is a composition depicting three seasons of spring, summer and monsoon.

All the pieces have been choreographed by the stalwart herself. “The music should be reflected appropriately in the dance,” she said while describing the nuances of choreography. Talking about the pandemic, she said ‘dance is not an online thing.’ “I don’t feel comfortable teaching or learning dance online,” she says.

Madhavi feels performing Odissi in Odisha is challenging as the audience understands the dance form. “People here judge you critically, so it is much more challenging and interesting to perform in Odisha,” she shared.

OB Bureau

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