An ode to the Odissi dance form


Madhvi Mudgal performed an Odissi dance recital in November that left classical Indian art connoisseurs in Auckland enthralled. She was accompanied at the Green Bay High School auditorium, west Auckland, by her students – Shalakha Rai, along with Melbourne-based Sam Goraya.

Trained under the legendary Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra, Mudgal has for the past few decades been teaching and mentoring young dancers at the Gandharva Mahavidyalaya, New Delhi, the finer nuances of the ancient dance form. A recipient of numerous awards, Mudgal has made a mark on the international dance scene, both as a soloist and as a choreographer. The list of distinguished awards conferred on her include the Padma Shri, Central and Orissa state Sangeet Natak Akademi, Grand Medaille de la Ville de Paris, Chevaliers of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the Government of France.

The programme, aptly named ‘Arpan’ (Hindi for ‘offering’), was an ode to human endeavour to explore spirituality and higher consciousness through the medium of dance. The evening started with Mangalacharan, performed by Mudgal herself. It was both an invocation to the gods and salutation to the audience. Her grace, technique and dextrous footwork belied her age of 67 years.

This was followed by a soulful performance by Rai, who charmed the audience with her grace and beauty. The third performance of the evening was ‘Ashtapadi’ performed and choreographed by Mudgal, in which she played the dual roles of Radha and Krishna, the divine lovers. This piece, based on the 12th century epic Geet Govinda, was brilliantly interpreted and made truly memorable by the abhinaya (facial expressions) of the artiste.

After the performance in Auckland

A choreographed performance titled ‘Chayanat Pallavi’ by Rai and Goraya was a beauty to be remembered for a long time. Goraya, a uniquely gifted dancer, is a man of many talents. A maestro on the dance floor, he is a scholar of mathematics with no less than four masters degrees as well as PhDs in Mathematics and Oceanography!

Then came the ‘Nataraj’, an invocation to Shiva, the Lord of dance, performed by Mudgal. The scintillating finale of the evening was titled ‘Moksha’ performed by Mudgal and Rai. The mesmerising recital prompted the emcee of the evening to state that we must have done some good karma to witness works of such perfection and beauty.

I ditto that totally. However, wish that the event was better publicised to inform, educate and enthrall a bigger audience.


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