IAN- Home Page
Houston Community College-Home Page

Odissi Dance Debut by Meha Chopra Mohapatra: Adding color to the cultural mosaic of Houston

Meha Mohapatra after her Odissi debut performance with her guru Supradipta Datta who handed her the certificate of completion.

Meha Mohapatra after her Odissi debut performance with her guru Supradipta Datta who handed her the certificate of completion. Photos: Navin Mediwala

HOUSTON: The Bayou City is a melting pot of cultures and traditions from all over the world, and the cultural artforms of India play a significant role in shaping this city. One such artform is Odissi, one of the eight ancient classical dances that originated in India. The origins of Odissi in particular, are believed to come from Natya Shastra, a Hindu Sanskrit text of performance arts that was first compiled in 200 BC, and from the highly detailed sculptures on the Hindu temples of Odisha, a state in eastern India.

Art and dance lovers in Houston witnessed a splendid Odissi performance by Meha Mohapatra on Sunday, July 9, at the auditorium in the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center. Meha has been a student of the Kalaangan School of Odissi Dance in Sugar Land, learning Odissi from her Guru Supradipta Datta, the school’s Executive Director, for the last thirteen years.

Meha Mohapatra gave her Odissi debut performance on Sunday, July 9 at the auditorium in the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center.

Meha Mohapatra gave her Odissi debut performance on Sunday, July 9 at the auditorium in the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center.

On Sunday, Meha completed her Rangapravesh, which is a contraction of Ranga meaning “stage” and Pravesha meaning “to enter”. It’s the event during which a Guru launches a student and declares her as fit for stage performances. In a Rangapravesh, the student performs for two to three hours, proving that she is capable of keeping an audience engaged for that duration. The audience was guided through the performance by a descriptive narration of the meanings of each dance by Dr. Upali Nanda (fondly known to all as Upali), a Odissi dancer and choreographer herself, who delivered her comments with great stage presence and encouraged the audience to show their appreciation towards Meha’s mastery of dance and the requisite facial and eye expressions.

Meha mesmerized an audience of about three hundred with her mastery of several Odissi dances with many complicated movements. She began with a Mangalacharan which is a dance of invocation through which the dancer offers her devotion to the gods and salutes the Mother Earth, her Guru and the audience. Then, she proceeded to perform two Pallavis or pure dance pieces – Ragshree and Khamaj – followed by a soul-calling song “Re Atman” choreographed in Odissi.

Meha-in-2

Next, Meha presented two Abhinayas or the art of expression, in which she conveyed folk tales or stories through her facial expressions and body movements. With Upali explaining the stances, Meha gave examples of what each movement meant and then she started off into the two Abhinayas. The concluding composition of Meha’s Odissi repertoire, Mokshya Mangalam, represented the spiritual culmination for the dancer: reintegration with the Absolute including a prayer for the well-being of all.

Meha was presented with the certificate of completion by her guru Supradipta Datta onstage to a standing ovation. Several of her friends from high school and dance class, her sister Dhara, mom Reva and dad Gopal, and teachers spoke about their experience and association with her. Meha concluded the event by thanking every person who had influenced her and helped her in learning the complicated Odissi classical dance over the years. She also displayed the sense of humor that her friends and family referred to all evening long. The event concluded with a buffet dinner catered by Bhojan Restaurant in the large banquet hall of the Center.

Meha now heads to Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts to pursue a degree in engineering. She is the older daughter of Gopal and Reva Mohapatra who have lived in Houston for more than twenty five years.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *