From Aruna Mohanty’s Prakriti-Purusha | Photo Credit: SR Raghunathan
The aesthetic outcome of any creative work is determined by the refinement of ideas and presentation technique. This refinement made a strong impact on the performance by dancers of Orissa Dance Academy, under the guidance of exponent Aruna Mohanty at the 69th annual arts festival of Kalakshetra.
From the choreographic formations and coordination of dancers’ movements to the color palette of the costumes and musical composition and accompaniment, everything flowed seamlessly.
Prakriti-Purusha, with which the performance began, explored the concepts of male and female principles and the ideas of creation. The choreography, conceptualised with vigorous dynamic movements to denote one as an embodiment of energy and dynamism and the other through graceful movements to signify a state of bliss, the creative energy of one and the destructive energies of the other artistically captured the diversity between the male and female.
Geometric lines and patterns
The dancers, male and female, moved with great precision, communicating the contrasting principles through the formation of various geometric lines and patterns. The emergence of Devi from fire, the graceful flow of the Ganga and the fierce encounter with Mahishasura were visualized to the melodic musical rendition of ‘Aiyigiri nandini’ in raga Hamsadhwani.
Pallavi, an item of pure dance featuring movements of lyrical grace and dance passages running parallely to musical passages, is an important part of the Odissi repertoire. The clear geometry of lines and the vibrant sounds of the group’s footwork in Khamaj Pallavi, combined with the female dancers recreating the friezes in temple sculptures highlighted the aesthetics of the Tribhanga style of Odissi.
‘I am, therefore, you are’, an existential monologue of a pratinayak where the character is not an anti-hero but a prototype of the nayaka, was explored by Aruna Mohanty in a riveting solo performance. Drawing on the narratives of Narasimha-Hiranyakashipu, Rama-Ravana and Krishna-Kamsa, Aruna drew parallels to the aspects of the devil and divinity embodied in each one of us through a judicious use of sensitive abhinaya, dance movements and theatrical devices.
The scene where Lord Narasimha emerges from the pillar made a strong visual impact. (Lighting design: Ramesh Chandra Jena). Though both were an embodiment of evil, the subtle variations in the characterization of Ravana and Kamsa were finely expressed by Aruna through her abhinaya. Alternating between the front and back of the palm while using the pataka mudra to denote good and evil was an impressive use of hasthas.
The idea of Arjuna seeking answers from Krishna in the battlefield, the Vishwaroopa Darshan embodying the all-encompassing form of the supreme lord, varied facets and forms of creation, philosophical ideas and abstract concepts were explored through dance, but the projection on the back screen disturbed the flow.
A musical ensemble consisting of just three musicians provided a rich aural treat. Matruprasad Das’ bhava-soaked vocal rendition, along with Agni Mitra Behera’s unobtrusive, melodic playing on the violin and Bijay Kumar Barik’s mardala enhanced the dance sequences. The dancers changed their costume color scheme for each item—the muted color palette and aesthetic drapes were impactful.
The dancers in the team were Madhudhmita Naik, Shreepunya Mohanty, Ananya Parida, Sayani Chakraborty, Nalu Samal, Bijan Kumar Palai, Prathap Bariki, Chinmaya Behora and Subham Kumar Ojha. The musical compositions were by Bijaya Kumar Jena and Ramhari Das. Rhythm composition was by Dhaneshwar Swain and Vijay Kumar Barik.