Bhubaneswar, February 11: Spreading the magic of music and dance for three long days, curtains finally came down on the 14th Dhauli-Kalinga Mahotsav on Sunday. Set against the backdrop of the scenic foothills of the majestic Dhauli Shanti Stupa, the Mahotsav has been doing its bit to invoke the peace and mysticism of the iconic monument over the years.
Originally named Dhauli Mahotsav, the festival mainly focused on classical forms of dance. It was later renamed as Dhauli-Kalinga Mahotsav, when the festival started propagating martial art forms of Odisha and other states. Organised by Orissa Dance Academy in association with Art Vision and Odisha Tourism, the festival was a confluence of varied artistic expressions.
Beginning from February 9, the first day of the festival saw the presentation of the ‘Guru Gangadhar Pradhan Smruti Samman’ for the year 2018. Four distinguished personalities were conferred with the title including Dr. S. K. Tamotia, Hon. Dean cum Director General & Vice Chairman Bhavan's Centre for Communication & Management; Atulya Mahakud, lyricist, actor, scriptwriter for Odia cinema & Doordarshan; Guru Dhaneswar Swain, eminent Odissi mardala exponent; and Bhagirathi Das, renowned Odissi Bastra Karigara for their valuable contribution to Odissi.
This was followed by a poetry recitation by Paramita Mohapatra, managing director of UMSL Ltd, a premier infrastructure development company and a cultural connoisseur. Since the theme of the festival this year was “The River”, every evening witnessed a thematic interpretation of the topic by various artists.
One of the highlights of the cultural programme on the inaugural day was an instrumental fusion performance by the band Shivagni. Based firmly on a classical platform, Shivagni’s forays into fusion were stamped with the rigour and expertise of the classical discipline, influenced by Irish folk music and Arabian tunes. That was followed by a lilting performance by Priti Patel and her group, Anjika School of Manipuri Dance from Kolkata - “Turel – Listen to the River” - which was about the purifying and harmonious nature of the river.
As the concluding item, Mayurbhanj Chhau was performed by the members of Project Chhauni, which was started to revive the lost roots of Chhau, helmed by Subhashree Mukherjee. Named “Pancha Bhuta”, the performance beautifully displayed the chaos between the five elements and man as well as the re-establishment of balance between macro and micro-cosmos.
The second evening kicked off with Devdas Chhotray, reputed Odia author, administrator and academician reciting a poem of his own, based on “The River” theme. Acclaimed danseuse Leela Samson and her group, the Spanda Dance Company presented a scintillating recital, “Nadi- The River”, based on a selection of poems for six Indian languages.
Fate fighter, led by Gyana Ranjan Mohanty, performed Mallakhamb Paika-Sahi Jatra, titled “Mu Buxi." Based on the heroic exploits of Buxi Jagabandhu, the performance was a visual treat for the audience.
On the final evening of the mahotsav, the ‘Ruchi Buddha Samman’ was presented to Padma Vibhushan, Dr. Sonal Mansingh, an iconic cultural personality of India, choreographer, social activist, researcher and motivational speaker. The concluding evening also witnessed Subroto Bagchi, an illustrious author, entrepreneur, business leader and the current Chairman of Skill Development Authority of Odisha, reciting a Bengali poem, on the theme of “The River”.
“Dancing Rivers” was performed by Vidha Lal, a multi-faceted Kathak exponent of Jaipur Gharana and Prateeksha Kashi, a celebrated Kuchipudi perfomer, as well as their groups. They invoked the spirits of two mighty rivers, the Ganga and the Yamuna and delivered a splendid performance. This was followed by “Ahimsa”, a production by Orissa Dance Academy which showcased historical events symbolising turning points in the life of a nation and Mahatma Gandhi’s contribution to it.
The closing performance of the festival was contemporary dance produced by Madhu Nataraj, an eminent performer and arts entrepreneur with her group, Natya STEM Dance Kampni. ''Aikyam-Invoking Equipoise" explored the concept of balance, dharma, diversity and peace, concluding in a fabulous display by the dancers. The group was the first ever team in the country to use unicycles in their performance, and their skilfulness left the audience speechless.