Tuesday 9 October 2012

Profile/Tribute - Living a dream and dreaming a life; Remembering Guru Gangadhar Pradhan - Kedar Mishra

His career as a dancer and dance teacher was not an ordinary one. He was the leader and path finder of second generation Odissi. As a student he learnt the art forms from his elders, but as a creator he started weaving his own dream. To set a stylistic rupture from the very established streams of the great masters was not an easy task. He took the challenge and started composing on his own. His masterpiece Konark Kanti, Shiva Panchaka, many Ashtapadis from Geeta Govinda, Nava Rasa, Ashtanayika... the list is quite long and refreshingly original. He imbibed styles of three major gurus and created his own style of expression. Emphasizing more on the finer elements of body he restructured the movements, stepping and style of expressions. He was a wonderful communicator and explicit chronicler of textual details in group formation.

People know him as a brilliant choreographer, teacher and great organizer. Personally, I have seen him performing on and off the stage many a time. The memory of his mesmerizing performance as a Gotipua, at the age of 55, is still fresh in my mind. That was an exclusive lucky show for me and few of my friends. Prior to his untimely death, Guruji was involved with a grand ambitious project to document all kinds of folk dance forms of Odisha. He invited all senior Gotipua gurus to participate in a documentation camp and luckily I got an invitation from him to watch the camp. One by one, seniors like Birabar Sahu, Maguni Das, Gobinda Pala and many others spoke and demonstrated the raw style and techniques of Gotipuas. Finally came a frail looking, darker old man. He was introduced to us as Guru Bhagirathi Mohapatra, a contemporary of Gangadhar Pradhan.
Sakhi mu laje mali...mana karuthila kimpa mu yamuna ku gali lo... that was the song. Describing the blissful embarrassment of a Gopika at the bathing ghat and her erotic expressions for Krishna were enacted in a typical desi manner and the body kinetic of the man was superb. After Bhagirathi Mohapatra’s performance, I requested Ganga sir to perform the same abhinaya and to show us the transformation process from desi to margi. And Guruji transformed into a young, love sick Gopika and what a performance that was!!

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