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Wednesday, 24 March 2021
Obit/Tribute - Laxmipriya Mohapatra, the first Odissi dancer on stage - Ileana Citaristi
In the early Forties at the time when female acting or dancing was considered taboo in the society and an occupation akin to prostitution, Laxmipriya became part of the first batch of female dancers to be associated with the Annapurna 'A' group at Puri. Although born at Khurda, she had come to live in Puri with her mother Tulasi Devi at a very early age. She was the youngest one among the first batch of female dancers along with Heera, daughter of a devadasi of Puri, and Nirmala who had left behind the rest of the family in Calcutta, and at the age of seven, had settled down at Puri with her mother. Among the elder ones who were already married at the time of joining the Theatre, were Radharani, Haramani, Balamani, Sara, Ratna and Buddhi. Some had already had a kind of stage experience by having participated either in folk dramas in their respective villages or having been cast by Mohan Sunder Dev Goswami in his film Sita Bibaho. After joining the Theatre, they were left completely under the care of the manager Bauribandhu Mohanty, who would treat all of them like adopted daughters. Slowly, besides dancing, they started to replace the male actors in the female roles and to grow as full fledged artists.