Odissi, one of eight Indian classical dance forms, visually delights audiences by bringing to life the vast number of dance sculptures abounding on the Orissan temple walls. Its deep spirituality stems from its roots in the temples as a form of worship. Odissi is characterized by fluid torso movements, grace, sculpturesque poses, aesthetic beauty, spirituality, and haunting music. At the base of the Odissi technique are the two fundamental postures unique to the style – tribhangi, a pose in which three bends of the body are formed by a deflection of the torso, a tilt of the head and a bend at the knees, creating an “S” shape with multiple triangular forms; and chauka, a square-like stance representing Lord Jagannath, the patron deity of Orissa.
Padma Vibhushan Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra
One of the legends of the Indian performing arts world, Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra was an undisputed master and architect of the contemporary Odissi repertoire. He was awarded the highest national honors from the Government of India, including the Sangeet Natak Academy Award in 1966, the Padmashree in 1972, the Padmabhushan in 1989, and the Padma Vibhushan in 2000. He was a recipient of the Kalidas Samman and was honored by the Government of France in 1995. His passing away in 2004 has left a void in the Odissi world.
A distinguished danseuse of Odissi, Srimati Sujata Mohapatra made her foray into the dancing arena in her early childhood when her interest in dance was nurtured from an early age by her parents. As the disciple and daughter-in-law of the late guru Padmavibhushan Kelucharan Mohapatra, the legendary exponent of Odissi, she inherited his devotion and passion for the classical dance form. Her dance is particularly noteworthy for her strict adherence to her guru’s style and vision and for her lyrical movements which perfectly epitomize the grace and technical perfection of the Kelucharan Mohapatra gharana.
Apart from being an excellent performer, Srimati Sujata Mohapatra is also actively involved in teaching Odissi and she conducts workshops in various places throughout India and internationally. At Srjan, the institute founded by Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra for imparting training in Odissi, she works alongside her husband Ratikant Mohapatra to carry on their Guru’s legacy.
In recognition of her contribution to the field of Odissi, she has received the Pandit Jasraj Award from Mumbai, the Mahari Award from the Pankaj Charan Das Foundation, the second Sanjukta Panigrahi Award from Washington DC, the Raaza award from Raaza Foundation, New Delhi and the Aditya Birla Kala Kiran Award from Mumbai among others.