Wednesday 21 February 2018

From the foothills of Dhauli a bouquet of arts for peace and cooperation - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman

Started in 2003 as a Martial Arts Festival held in the open space within the verandah of the Peace Pagoda on the Dhauli hilltop in Odisha, the Dhauli-Kalinga Mahotsav's enlarged version now with its venue at the foothills, embracing dance and other performance traditions, has its greatest asset in bringing together several art disciplines like poetry, music, dance incorporating rural and classical traditions, martial arts, and above all for an animated active audience of over two thousand eagerly watching the proceedings on each of the three days (Feb 9-11, 2018). And this in an isolated place far from the capital of Bhubaneswar! With special buses arranged (courtesy Orissa Dance Academy under Aruna Mohanty, now organising the festival for Odisha Tourism, taking over from Ileana Citaristi, the original organiser of the martial arts festival at the hilltop) to ply to and from Bhubaneswar during the festival days, it is the young students from various colleges and training centres who form the audience - a very heartening trend and one not seen in other cities for dance events.

Dance comes as the final expression incorporating many disciplines, like poetry, music, rhythm, along with the consciousness of body lines depicted in sculpture and drawing - and in the Guru Gangadhar Pradhan Smruti Samman (in memory of late Guru Gangadhar Pradhan), the selection of awardees highlights this approach of recognising all inputs contributing to the dance. This year's selection had Dr. S.K. Tamotia (Dean, Director General and Vice Chairman of Bhavan's Centre for Communication and Management), Atulya Mahakud (lyricist, actor, script writer for Odiya cinema), Doordarshan and for dance, Dhaneswar Swain, the brilliant mardal expert whose contribution to dance is immeasurable, and Bhagiratha Das Odissi Bastra Karigara (designer and maker of costumes).

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