Friday, May 25, 2012
Old values in a brand new avatar
Modernity meets tradition in dancer Bichitrananda Swain’s renditions
Bhubaneswar, May 24:
The pain and suffering of mythological hero Karna’s life still ring fresh in the minds of viewers who have watched the dance drama choreographed by Odissi dancer Bichitrananda Swain.
The dancer-composer has carved a niche for himself with his performances, where the traditions are kept intact but the execution is fresh.
Gurus such as Kelucharan Mohapatra, Sanjukta Panigrahi and Gangadhar Pradhan groomed Swain. The dancer said that the traditions of all his gurus are reflected in his choreography.
“I had a passion for dance as a youngster, but it was my gurus who channelised my ideas. Even after bringing in new ideas into my compositions, I cannot come anywhere close to their creative excellence. But, I ensure that I keep their traditions intact in my choreography,” said Swain, whose composition Karna was performed at many dance festivals in the capital.
Hailing from Balipatna on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar, Swain lost his mother when he was a kid. His teacher father wanted him to be well-educated, but when he found that Swain was passionate about dance, he supported him.
“I joined Utkal Sangeet Mahavidyalaya after Class X. I also enrolled at the Odisha Dance Academy run by Guru Gangadhar Pradhan, to whom I was introduced by Gotipua maestro Birabara Sahoo of our village. But, I lost my father soon,” said Swain, who later became the principal of the academy from 1990 to 2003.
Swain said he used to observe the movements and expressions of gurus Kelucharan Mohapatra and Sanjukta Panigrahi and gets inspiration from the memories of his gurus even today.
Swain’s forte has been to produce brilliant dance sequences with an all-male team of artistes. “Kelu sir was brilliant at depicting feminine expressions. But when I was young, not many male dancers used to get an opportunity except in Guru Pankaj Charan Das’ troupe. So, I decided to promote male dancers in my compositions,” he said.
While Karna is one of the most exquisite abhinayas performed by male dancers only, other famed compositions of Swain include Suryakritia, a mangalacharan, and Tala Madhurya, a pallavi.
For Swain, his gurus were divine beings. “I will always follow their traditions and values rather than experimenting too much since all of them used to say that it is the feeling and essence of the theme expressed in the language of dance that makes a good dancer,” he said.