With unique repertoires and actions geared for the male physique, this classical dance kind is quick shedding its extremely female tag
It’s an irony that Lord Nataraj, the creator of dance, is male whereas his creation has been the bastion of the feminine. Equally, though the sweetness and recognition of the classical dance model of Odissi owes a lot to the imaginative and prescient of pioneering male dancers like Kelucharan Mohapatra, it has develop into well-known as a predominantly female kind.
In recent times, nevertheless, the variety of male dancers has been on the rise, defying conventional expectations that girls dancers may finest depict the shape’s fluid strikes, sensuous curves, sculpturesque poses, and delicate gestures.
In Odisha, after all, there’s sculptural proof of a robust custom of male dancers. The traditional Parsurameswar temple in Bhubaneswar has the utmost variety of sculptures depicting male dancers whereas Brahmeswar temple, Megheswar temple, Kapileswar temple, all in Bhubaneswar; Jagannath temple in Puri, and the Solar temple in Konark, constructed between the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, even have a number of such depictions. In actual fact, the traditional dance type of Gotipua, carried out by younger boys dressed as ladies, is taken into account a precursor to Odissi.
In 1958, nevertheless, when Odissi was reconstructed as a classical dance kind, the male dancer obtained marginalised. A first-rate issue for this was additionally the socio-economic background of male dancers. Whereas the primary era of feminine dancers like Sanjukta Panigrahi, Sonal Mansingh and Kumkum Mohanty got here from progressive and well-to-do households who supported their dance careers, a lot of the male dancers got here from poorer backgrounds and needed to fall again on educating to make a dwelling.
A lot-delayed enhance
In 1964, an All-India Classical Dance Competition was hosted in Hyderabad, and Odissi was featured in it for the primary time after being conferred the ‘classical’ standing. It was right here that the late Ramani Ranjan Jena, disciple of Guru Kelucharan, who would later develop into a widely known New Delhi-based guru, carried out. It was the primary solo presentation by a male Odissi dancer on a nationwide platform.
Regardless of Ramani Ranjan’s efficiency receiving rave responses, there was no acutely aware effort to advertise male Odissi dancers for the following three a long time. The much-delayed enhance got here, lastly, in 1996 when Sangeet Natak Akademi hosted an Odissi dance competition in Bhubaneswar through which a lot of males carried out. It was adopted, 4 years later, by a seminar and workshop on ‘Purush ang in Odissi dance’ that critically evaluated male dancing and male dancers in Odissi.
It was in 1975 that the late Guru Gangadhar Pradhan’s famed Odisha Dance Academy in Bhubaneswar performed a pivotal function on this space. Having began as a Gotipua dancer, Guru Pradhan picked good-looking and devoted younger males from the villages, most of them Gotipua dancers, and introduced them to his academy.
Right here, he not solely skilled them in Odissi but in addition ensured their training within the state-run Utkal Sangeet Mahavidyalaya, Odisha’s premier faculty for the performing arts in Bhubaneshwar. The grooming of male dancers was lastly institutionalised. Then, Guru Bichitrananda Swain, Pradhan’s pupil and arguably Odissi’s finest coach and choreographer up to now, who had additionally served as principal of the Odisha Dance Academy, took the method to the following stage.
When Guru Swain had arrived in Bhubaneswar to be a dancer, he was saddened by the plight of male dancers. “Even for the function of Krishna, feminine dancers had been chosen. Like most of my predecessors, I hardly obtained to carry out and ended up as a trainer and choreographer. I realised the pressing want to advertise the purush ang in Odissi. I not solely skilled males but in addition created particular compositions for them,” says the guru, whose Rudrakshya Odissi ensemble, began in 2000, is in style globally.
Right this moment, there’s fairly a superb band of immensely gifted male Odissi dancers. Whereas the celebrated Malaysia-based Ramli Ibrahim continues to be a crowd-puller, Rahul Acharya, Lingaraj Pradhan and Yudhisthir Nayak — all winners of the Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Prativa Puraskar — in addition to Debasis Patnaik and Pravat Kumar Swain have all turned out to be charming solo performers.
“With rising consciousness and world publicity, male Odissi dancers have definitely come of age. I see much more acceptance for them now,” says Rahul Acharya, the erudite dancer who is way in demand right this moment.
Provides Douglas Ridings, probably the most acquainted face amongst male Odissi dancers within the U.S., “I see plenty of curiosity and pleasure in audiences. I’ve been given many alternatives to carry out throughout the U.S.”
As Ramli Ibrahim says, “Odisha right this moment has an unimaginable pool of gifted male dancers. With the appearance of establishments resembling Rudrakshya Basis in early 2000, with its dynamic founder-guru, the dancers have acquired worldwide recognition. Bichitrananda’s thrilling new repertoires present the male physique and and actions at its finest.”
The Bhubaneshwar-based creator writes on classical dance