The annual Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra Award Festival organized by Srjan is a much-awaited event known for the impeccable arrangements and distinguished lineup of artists in music and dance presented to the discerning Bhubaneswar audience. Curated and directed by Guru Ratikant Mohapatra, this year's festival is special, it is the 25th edition and hence stretched to 7 days from Sept 5 to 11, instead of the usual 5-day bonanza.
In 2000, Guru Bichitrananda Swain set up the Rudrakshya Foundation to develop and promote new and innovative works in Odissi, while creating a platform for young male dancers to showcase their talent. The Rudrakshya ensemble stormed Rabindra Mandap with their vitality and energetic brilliance, with never a dull moment through their presentation of Jaha Krishna Saha Kali beautifully choreographed by Bichitrananda Swain. The production delved into the connection between Krishna (an avatar of Vishnu), and Kali (an avatar of Shakti), exploring the many similarities and contrasts. While Krishna is the compassionate one, Kali is fierce.
The dance opens with the devotee in a meditative trance with the universal sound OM in the background, followed by the two bija mantras - Kleem for Krishna and Kreem for Kali. Krishna and Kali descend upon Earth to eliminate evil and restore peace. The devotee visualizes Krishna as Pitambara, surrounded by white cows and looking calm and loving, living in Vrindavan; and Kali as Digambari, surrounded by jackals making furious howling noise, living on the premises of a cremation ground. Krishna dances in the river Yamuna surrounded by gopikas, while Kali dances in a sea of blood. Krishna, the one with lotus-shaped eyes and a charming disposition, is devoted to Radha; and Kali, holding a skull and sword in her left hand, symbolising fearlessness, is dear to Lord Shiva. Set to the music composition of Ramhari Das and rhythm composition of Dhaneswar Swain, the dancers Jagyan, Dushasan, Bichitra, Santosh, Samir, Sanjeev and Rasmi switched between seamlessly portraying the attributes of Krishna and Kali, dazzling with their footwork, energy and stage presence.
Writer and Dance Critic: Lalitha Venkat
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Photos courtesy: Srjan