BHUBANESWAR: Bhubaneswar-based Odissi danseuse Minati Pradhan will be presented the coveted Mahari award this year. The award, instituted by Guru Pankaj Charan Odissi Research Foundation, carries Rs 25,000 in cash besides a memento and a citation.
Announcing the award, foundation secretary and the late Guru’s son Sarat Das told mediapersons here on Saturday that the award was named and instituted by his father and the guru of gurus of Odissi dance late Pankaj Charan Das. The aim is to honour a dancer of high calibre every year who is dedicated to dance like the divine dancers of the Jagannath temple known as Maharis (the devdasis). It is being presented on the birthday of the guru, celebrated as Guru Pankaj Utsav, he added.
Das stated that his father was quite concerned about the rapidly marginalised solo genre of dancing and hence the festival was launched 18 years ago as per his wish.
Into its 18th year now, some of the past awardees include Sujata Mohapatra, Aruna Mohanty, Aloka Kanungo, Jhelum Paranjpe, Sangeeta Dash, Bijayini Satpathy, Meera Das, Leena Mohanty and Kavita Dwivedi, the secretary said.
An 11-member jury comprising dancers, musicians and mediapersons selected Minati for the award.
The award will be given away during the three-day Pankaj Utsav commencing on March 17 at Rabindra Mandap. Apart from Minati, Niranjan Patra, K Ramarao, Meenakshi Behera and Arati Mishra will be felicitated with the titles of ‘Madeli’, ‘Binakara’, ‘Nachuni Samprada’ and ‘Gauni Samprada’ for their contribution to the field of Odissi mardala, Odissi music composition and direction, Odissi dance and singing respectively.
Continuing with the tradition of encouraging solo artistes as per the wishes of the late maestro, the festival will feature 15 soloists, both promising and established, this year including the Mahari awardee.
The list of performers includes Kaustavi Sarkar and Pompi Paul from Kolkata, Moumita Ghosh from New Delhi, Dhara Gandhi Dutta from Mumbai, Bangalore-based Madhulita Mohapatra and upcoming Odissi dancers like Kalyani Sahu, Khyana Prava, Mamta Satpathy, Manaswini Mohanty, Swapna Rani Sinha, Lopamudra Jena, Nayana Patel and male dancers Niladri Mohanty, Braja Mallick and Gobinda Chandra Patel.
The festival will also feature the ritualistic Mahari dance of Puri.