Odisha: Odissi dancers from UK, Brazil steal the show at 57th Ekamra Walks in Old Town

Bhubaneswar: On the auspicious Makar Sankranti day at the 57th Ekamra Walks, it was Odissi, Odissi and Odissi. While the starting point of entire Mukeswar Temple and its backdrop got a new look for the Mukteswar Dance Festival, four Odissi dancers from UK and Brazil were among the heritage walkers. All are in the city to see the festival.
Katie Ryan, Kali Chandrasegaram and Sanjeevani Dutta, all desciples of Guru Shankar Behera of Mumbai participated, Beatriz Ocougne from Brazil, a dance guru herself in Brazil took active interest in understanding the temple art, architecture and the sculptures.
Sanjeevani led the UK team of dancers and they were to meet Guru Shankar Behera while attending the famous dance festival of classical dance, which is quite popular among the Odissi dancers from India and world as it is being held against the lovely backdrop of majestic Mukteswar Temple, known for its unique arch and also intricate carvings.
While Katie was introduced to Guru Shankar Behera by Sanjeevani at an early age in London, Kali first learnt Odissi from Geeta Shankar in Kuala Lumpur in 1996 and then moved to London and now has interests both in contemporary and Odissi dance forms. Kali, however, learnt Bharatanatyam from Radha Shetty at Temple of Fine Arts in Kuala Lumpur, before learning Odissi.
Sanjeevani was overwhelmed at seeing young boys and girls taking active interest in learning about heritage and culture. “It is across the entire South East Asia, where locals are not much interested to know things about their rich heritage and culture. I am happy that local civic and development authorities and Odisha Tourism are continuing the nice effort week after week and this would definitely help our next generation to take notice and have more knowledge on heritage of the Temple City. This is a commendable job,’’ she added.
Passionate about one of the most graceful dance forms of the world, Odissi, Beatriz Ocougne was just awestruck seeing the performance of the famous Delhi-based Odissi Guru Madhavi Mudgal in 1992 in Brazil. “I was so much impressed by the dance form that I regularly came to New Delhi to learn the dance form from Madhavi Mudgal and later from Bhopal-based exponent Bindu Juneja, also famous for her Odissi.
Beatriz is coming to Odisha regularly and this is her fifth visit to Bhubaneswar. “I am now into teaching my pupils both on dancing and therapy and the love for Odissi, lerning new things in the dance form brings me here almost every year and I enjoy my stay. Ekamra Walks is a beautiful initiative in which not only people from outside, but locals are taking proud to participate. This is a great achievement for the city,’’ she said. Beatriz was also accompanied by one of her students Marcos.
Towards the end of the Ekamra Walks Old Town Circuit, before its concluding part at Ekamra Van, the walkers assembled at Art Vision, the institute established by renowned Odissi dancer from Italy Ileana Citaristi, who has made the city her home.
Summing up the day of “Odissi and Ekamra Walks,’’ the celebrated dancer said “what you people saw in the temples in the stone as art forms are represented through the graceful postures of the dancers.’’
While the Pallavi recital by her young students was on rhythm and music, the Abhinaya by another disciple was also nicely presented. Apart from the general walkers the Odissi dancers from UK and Brazil also appreciated the Odissi recital by the young students of Art Vision, Kalyani, Divya and Subhashree.
Fourteen students of the city-based ICICI Academy of Skills today participated at the heritage walk making another day for the academy to participate at the walk. The skill academy, which trains only girls in different fields of employment generation is the single institute in the State Capital to send its students for the maximum number of participation at Ekamra Walks (Old Town).
The heritage walkers started the walk at Mukteswar and saw Parasurameswar, Kotitirtheswar, Ananta Vasudev, Lingaraj, Chitrakarini, Sari and Mohini temples and monuments like Bindusagar and the old dharamsala. While on their way the visitors also saw the religious rituals by people and the priests on the bank of Bindusagar on the occasion of Makar Sankranti.