Much to the delight of connoisseurs of classical arts, the tiny district headquarter town of Kendujhar in north Odisha’s tribal region witnessed the launch of an annual national classical music and dance festival recently. Named as the National Music and Dance Festival (NMDF), it was hosted by Sadhana Cultural Academy, a four-year-old outfit of the town that runs a small school for Odissi dance and Hindustani music.
The inaugural evening of the two-day festival kicked off with an impressive solo recital by Bhubaneswar-based noted Hindustani vocalist guru Bijayananda Nayak. Being aware of the audience who have little exposure to classical music, he made his rendition of raga Bhopali short, simple and enjoyable by staying away from excessive elaborations and exhibition of intricacies. His sonorous voice was enough to establish an instant rapport with his audience.
Following the music concert, acclaimed Odissi dancer Sujata Mohapatra, who was the star attraction of the festival, with her mesmerising solo and group presentations. Braving the freezing cold of the winter night, large number of audience waited to watch her ever popular ‘Kedechhanda Janelosahi, Se Nandarajara Tikipilati’, an abhinaya number delineating mother Yasoda’s awe at kid Krishna’s incredible superhuman capabilities . Her troupe from her Gurukrupa Srjan institute joined her later for a power-packed presentation of ‘Durga’, another classic composition of her father-in-law and guru Kelucharan Mohapatra.
Two promising young dancers from Bhilai – Kuchipudi dancer Shweta Nayak and Bharatanatyam dancer Deepesh Hoskare – proved their potential during the evening. While Sweta was eloquent in her expressions in the kirtana on Krishna, Deepesh’s articulation of the character of Shiva was quite mature. Similarly, Kolkata’s Bharatanatyam dancer Soumita Ray’s Bharatanatyam set to Rabindra Sangeet was well-appreciated. Two other young dancers from Kolkata – Manipuri Hemant Viswakarma and Kathak artiste Pallavi Chakrabarty had brief but neat performances that evening.
Three marvellous musicians made the closing evening memorable with their captivating concerts. A solo mardal recital by Bhubaneswar-based master percussionist guru Sachidananda Das was both education and entertainment for the audience.
His lucid explanations in between his playing of the indigenous percussion instrument of Odisha touched hearts. Similarly, Bhubaneswar-based Hindustani vocalist Charulata Nayak’s mellifluous voice coupled with her technical perfection and crystal clear tonal quality mesmerized. The other Hindustani vocalist of the evening – Yudhajit Ray from Kolkata – impressed with his khayal set to raga Purvi followed by raga Miya Malhar and the concluding Kabir bhajan.
US-based Odissi exponent guru Jyoti Rout, who is known for her choreographies set to typical Odia songs with devotional and spiritual flavour, helped the audience appreciate the intricacies of the Odissi vocabulary with her own announcement. She danced her own choreographies – ‘Devi’ (an ode to the Mother Goddess) and ‘Bhaja Gobindam’ a composition of Adi Shankaracharya.