How easy is it to learn Odissi dance? Renowned Odissi exponent Geetanjali Acharya has the answer. “Learning a dance form is as ‘easy’ as learning a new language,” she smiles.
“Every classical dance form requires a marathon effort and mastering Odissi is in no way different. Though the dance form shares a lot of similarities with Bharatanatyam, Odissi requires tremendous physical stress owing to its application of ‘tribhangi,’ involving the independent movement of head, chest and hips,” says the dancer who visited the state recently.
Geetanjali, a proud product of legendary Odissi maestro Kelucharan Mohapatra’s much-famed Srjan Dance Institute in Orissa has carved out a niche as one of the promising Odissi dancers in the country today. Gifted with an amazing ‘angasuddhi’ and incredible grace, her greatest asset has been her dance of devotion and delight that is very much essential to excel in this oriental dance form that originated as a temple ritual. “The dance is characterised by various ‘bhangas’ [stance] which involve stamping of the foot and striking various postures as seen in Indian sculptures. Moreover, the basic square stance involved in Odissi, known as ‘Chouka’ symbolises Lord Jagannatha. In a way it is as classical as Bharatanatyam, if not more. It is almost like sculptures coming alive on stage,” explains Geethanjali, who has bagged the coveted ‘Singaramani’ title for her performance in the traditional Kal-ke-Kalakar Festival held in Mumbai annually. The dance exponent who has a lot of students tutoring under her in Odisha, adds that the dance form is gaining repute these days.
“There was a situation some time ago when the dance form was limited to a few exponents. But these days, the audience themselves have increased double-fold even abroad. And most of the enthusiasts show genuine interest in the dance form. It’s a fortune, or else traditional dances as these would have suffered a slow death.”
Geethanjali Acharya in a recent performance in Kozhikode presented five exclusive pieces, which included a ‘Vandanam’ under the line of ‘Shanthakaaram,’ followed by a complete pure Odissi item titled Jugma Dwanva Pallavi, a traditional item titled ‘Keve Chandha,’ which portrays the Krishna Balya Leela, a Durga Sthuthi and finally with a ‘Moksh.’
“Moksh, just as the title suggests, indicates spiritual liberation. This dance represents a spiritual culmination for the dancer who soars into the realm of pure aesthetic delight. Movement and pose merge to create new patterns and new designs in space and time. The dance moves on to a crescendo that is thrilling to both, the eye and the ear. With the cosmic sound of ‘Om,’ the dance dissolves into nothingness - just like Moksha or the deliverance of the soul in real life,” she winds up.