The Debadhara Cultural Organization, led by Guru Binayak Panda, has once again illuminated the world of Indian classical dance with the splendid showcase of the 14th Guru Debaprasad Nritya Parampara and Award Festival. Held on December 4th and 5th, 2021, at the Kamani Auditorium in the heart of the capital, this festival proved to be a vibrant tribute to the rich legacy of Guru Debaprasad Das, the pioneer who played a pivotal role in elevating Odissi dance to the status of an Indian classical dance form.

Honoring Tradition: Legacy of Guru Debaprasad Das

Guru Debaprasad Das’s unique approach to Odissi dance, blending tribal, folk, and classical elements of Odisha, is a legacy that continues to inspire dancers and enthusiasts alike. The festival paid homage to this visionary guru by presenting performances that embodied his spirit of innovation while staying rooted in tradition.

An Artistic Tapestry Unfolds

The festival’s inaugural evening commenced with the evocative performance “Gananayak Panchakam,” choreographed by Guru Gajendra Panda. Tridhara, the group led by Guru Gajendra Panda, captivated the audience with verses of devotion to Lord Ganesha, delivered through Odissi’s graceful movements and melodic Ragamalika and Talamalika compositions.

Ankita Kumari, a Doordarshan artist and disciple of Guru Binayak Panda, wove a mesmerizing narrative through her solo Odissi performance “Durga.” Set to raga Patdeep and talas Triputa and Ektali, the dance depicted the divine energy of Shakti, particularly in the form of Mahishasura Mardini.

The festival’s diverse lineup also included Sudha Chandran, the renowned actress and Bharatanatyam dancer. Her performances “Ramchandra,” “Kaisi Lagi Lagan,” and “Nache Mayuri” eloquently portrayed devotion, comparison of Radha and Meera’s devotion for Krishna, and her own life journey—a testament to her strength and resilience.

Soulful Melodies and Captivating Rhythms

Talat Aziz, the Ghazal maestro, graced the stage with his melodic rendition. While his performances of film numbers like “Phir Chhidi Raat” and “Zindagi Jab Bhi Teri Bazm Mein” delighted the audience, his soulful voice left them yearning for more classical renditions.

The festival’s second evening was equally enchanting, featuring the soul-stirring bhajans of Guru Om Prakash. His renditions, reminiscent of Pt. Bhimsen Joshi, created a devotional ambiance, resonating with the lyrics of revered saint poets.

A Journey through Dance and Narratives

Ileana Citaristi, an accomplished dancer and author, presented the enthralling Odissi solo “Ekalavya.” Drawing from the powerful Odia version of the Mahabharata, Citaristi’s performance portrayed the tale of Jara, a tribal chief who overcame caste barriers to learn from his Guru. Her emotive expressions and dedication to the story captivated the audience.

Guru Jayarama Rao and his disciples mesmerized with their Kuchipudi performances. The intricate footwork and storytelling in “Gajendra Moksham” emphasized the consequences of material desires and ignorance, echoing a message that transcends time.

A Grand Finale: Resonance of Kathak

Pt. Rajendra Gangani, a prominent Kathak exponent of the Jaipur Gharana, was the festival’s grand finale. His performance, accompanied by Fateh Singh Gangani’s tabla, left a profound impact. Through Dhrupad, Thumri, and rhythmic compositions, he paid homage to Guru Debaprasad Das and enraptured the audience with his spirited dance and soulful expressions.

Resounding Applause: A Testament to Art’s Power

The festival was a resounding success, not only honoring the legacy of Guru Debaprasad Das but also showcasing the diverse and vibrant tapestry of Indian classical dance. The performances, each a unique narrative woven with artistry and devotion, left the audience in awe, reflecting the enduring power of artistic expression and cultural preservation.

The 14th Guru Debaprasad Nritya Parampara and Award Festival, organized by Debadhara, truly celebrated the essence of Indian classical dance. It embodied tradition, innovation, and the shared reverence for art that transcends boundaries and enriches the human experience.