Bhubaneswar: The open air auditorium at Odisha’s coastal town of Konark will soon come alive with the sound of percussion instruments and ghungroo with renowned artistes taking the stage with the majestic Sun Temple in the backdrop. The much-awaited five-day Konark Festival beginning December 1 will be a starry affair this year. Let’s know these artistes of international repute, who will showcase India’s cultural depth while offering the rich dance heritage of the country, at the extravaganza.
Sutra Foundation, Malaysia (Ramli Ibrahim and Group)
Dancer and choreographer Datuk Ramli Ibrahim has been cultivating Indian classical dance in Malaysia for the past three decades. Trained in classical ballet and modern dance, the 63-year-old is well known for his captivating performances in Odissi. He founded Sutra Dance Theatre back in 1983 and launched Sutra Foundation in 2007 to cultivate more interest in traditional dance and performing arts.
At the festival, the group with 24 dancers will stage GANJAM inspired by folk dances and music traditions of culturally-rich Ganjam district of South Odisha. The production reaffirms Guru Deba Prasad Das’ Tridhara – three approaches of tribal, folk and classical trends, showing how tradition acquires modernity and a contemporary avatar.
According to Ramli Ibrahim, it is a tribute to painter, author and art historian late Dr Dinanath Pathy under the supervision of Odissi Guru Gajendra Kumar Panda who will conduct the live music. The music, one of most interesting commissioned by Sutra, has been created by Pandit Gopal Panda with nuanced reference to many of Ganjam’s vibrant folk music and theatre traditions.
Diksha Manjari, Kolkata (Dona Ganguly and Group)
Odissi exponent Dona Ganguly is a stickler for tradition and preserves the Guru Kelucharan Mahapatra style, the anga sudhi, in her dance productions. She used to travel to Bhubaneswar during vacation to learn the nuances of the dance from the maestro, who accompanied her on many of her early performances on the pakhawaj. This relationship continued till his death in 2004.
Dona now divides her time between performances and teaching at her school, Diksha Manjari. She is the head of the Odissi department of Bharati Vidya Bhavan as well as Techno India Schools. She is ‘A’ graded artist of Doordarshan.
Kaishiki (Daksha Mashruwala)
Kaishiki Nrityabhasha is an Odissi Dance Institute founded in 1992 by Odissi danseuse Daksha Mashruwala. A disciple of Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra, she is a dancer of repute with sensitive abhinaya skills, propagating and giving new dimension to the classical art without sacrificing tradition and style.
An exponent, teacher and choreographer, Daksha has regaled audiences in India and abroad for the last two decades and felicitated by The Center of World Music, San Diego and Canadian Museum of Civilisation, Ottawa, among others.
Odissi dance groups from Guru Nirjan Rout’s Nupur Dance Academy and GKCM Odissi Research Centre, both from the Odisha Capital, will also perform during the five-day festival.
Besides Odissi, the brilliance of Bharatnatyam, Kathak, Kuchipudi, Manipuri and Mohiniattam forms will also be showcased.
Manipur Nartanalaya, Kolkata (Bimbavati Devi and Group)
Daughter of renowned classical Manipuri dancers, Guru Bipin Singh and Kalavati Devi, Bimbavati is a performing artiste of Manipuri Nartanalaya, one of the pioneer institutions of Manipuri dance.
Bimbavati is also engaged in experimenting with new idioms and contemporary choreographies based on Manipuri dance.
Nalanda Dance Research Centre (Dr Kanak Rele and Group)
Dr. Kanak Rele is a renowned artist of Mohiniyattam, a traditional art form of Kerala. She is the founder-director of Nalanda Dance Research Centre and the founder-principal of Nalanda Nritya Kala Mahavidyalaya in Mumbai.
Rele is noted for the contemporisation of mythological tales in her performances and her portrayal of strong women characters in them which is a marked departure from the traditional Mohiniyattam theme of the nayika pining for love. In 2013, she was conferred the Padma Bhushan by the Government of India.
Abhinava Dance Company, Bangalore (Rajendra and Group)
Abhinava Dance Company founded in 1994 by husband wife duo – Nirupama and Rajendra, offers intensive training in Kathak. The school follows the Lucknow Gharana of Kathak.
The Bangalore-based dancer Rajendra, who received the prestigious dance title, ‘Nritya Choodamani’, has lent the North Indian classical dance form a subtle southern flavour.
One of the celebrated dancers of Kuchipudi, Vanashree Rao will also be performing at the festival, which will witness a Bharatnatyam recital by The Temple Fine Arts, Malaysia.
Alongside the classical dance festival, Odisha Tourism is also organising International Sand Art Festival at Chandrabhaga beach, 3 km from the world heritage site. Eight foreign participants and 62 from India will be taking part in the festival. One stall has been given to two differently-abled artists, said sand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik, who is the brand ambassador of the festival.
Cash award of Rs. 1,00,000, Rs. 50,000 and Rs. 25,000 will be given to the artists who secure 1st, 2nd and 3rd positions respectively in Solo and Double category. Besides, women and differently-abled artists will be honoured with trophies, he added.