Beauty Meets Perfection at Odissi Konark Festival in Houston

BY DR. SANGEETA SAIKIA

HOUSTON: The 3rd International Konark Festival concluded in Houston on Saturday, June 8 2019 at Wisdom High School. Dance, music and food of Eastern and Northeastern of India under one roof. This show was the first of its kind, a perfect showcase. More than 300 attendees thoroughly enjoyed this show which lasted over two and half hours. A short loss of time due to audio system malfunction did not deter the enthusiasm of the astute audience.

Hindustani Flute by Pandit Parshuram Das, Sitar by Pandit Srinivas Koumunduri supported in Tabla by Shri Govind Shetty played Alap, Jod, Dhalla, Vandish with Tri-taal on Raag Yaman, for over twenty minutes set the tone and brought harmony to the environment.

Dance program started with an Odissi repertoire called Surya Strutee. A perfect mangalacharan/ introduction worshipping Sun God, audience, and mother earth. Five artists from Odissi Academy performed this item with Yoga in Odissi theme. Batu was a group performance lead by world renowned Odissi dancer Mrs. Meera Das who came specifically for this show from India.

Beautiful Manipuri classical dance was performed by Dr Sohini Roy from Los Angeles, Dr. Rafia Rasu and Mrs. Rinku Bhatacharya. Superb costume and dance sequences based on Gita Govinda mesmerized the audience. Assam Folk dance Bihu – was a show stealer from Northeast of India. Houston ladies presented a well coordinated item within few days of practice.
Ms. Liga Vildare and Pandit Parshuram Das through violin and flute paid a tribute to Bharat Ratna Bhupen Hazarika and played a western number as well.

Solo performance by Mrs. Veda Chowdury enchanted the audience with her Sattriya Classical dance from Assam, and the item was Dasa Avatar of lord Vishnu.

Dansuse Mrs Meera Das performed a solo item called Shree Rama Preyashi, This beautiful piece from Ramayana takes us to the time when Ravana in the disguised of a Sadhu abducts Devi Sita to his kingdom in Lanka and keeps her captive in the Ashoka-Bana amidst heavy security, and Hanuman’s role in discovering Sita. Mrs Das was outstanding with portraying multiple characters.

A fast paced duet full of vibrant energy was a Odissi Pallavi performed by students of Odissi Academy, Aarushi and Nishita.

Grand finale was another spell binding duet by Guru Madhusmita Mohanty and Guru Ramesh Jena with Naba Rasa (Nine different expressions human emotions) from Ramayana. It was a feat where Beauty Meets Perfection in Odissi Classical Dance, perhaps the best show in Houston. Entire audience appreciated with a standing ovation.

Finishing touch was Festival of Food from East and Northeast of India. Families in Houston cooked 19 varieties of food from Assam, Bengal, Manipur, and Odisha.

This program was organized by Odissi Academy, a 501.c.3 organization dedicated to promote Indian Classical Dance and Music in Houston, with supported by City of Houston through Houston Arts Alliance. The City of Houston has continuously provided an opportunity to artists all over the world to perform in Houston to create a cultural diversity in the region.
Please visit www.OdissiAcademy.com for further information, and also stay tuned for next years performances. Photographs courtesy Johnathan Ross.

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