Kalaangan Students Display Dedication at Alok Utsav

Alokutsav in

Photos: Jit Biswas and Rabi De

By Sanchali Basu

SUGAR LAND: This year Alok Utsav, the annual festival of Odissi dance presented by Kalaangan at the Sugar Land auditorium on Nov 22 was even better organized and conducted than years prior. Parents, students and well wishers alike carried out all their responsibilities to a tee to make the evening run like a well oiled machine. What had started out 5 years ago in a small way by Guru Supradipta Dutta for Alok Utsav to showcase the talent of her students, from Kalaangan and HDBS Kala Bhavan has taken wings since, and had 50 plus dancers this year.

Alok 1in

Of special note this year was the fact that a student from Kalaangan, Simantini Behura had participated in the prestigious International Odissi Dance Festival in Bhubaneshwar. Even though she was the youngest dancer at the Festival, she was acclaimed to be one of the best by critics. The other feather in their cap was the joint collaboration with Kanniks Kannikeswaran, “The Magical Music Man from Madras,” in their production Chitram, this year. Performances by Kalaangan students were specially recognized for their grace, elegance and masterful technique. It has also taken a step to give back to the dance community by introducing the Kalaangan Nritya Pratibha Award (institute with a conscience) which provides a scholarship for a deserving upcoming dancer in India.

Alok 2in

Although a tad drizzly, things started to warm up with participants signing in and guests partaking in savory snacks in the main foyer. Chief guest, Sugar Land councilman Harish Jajoo was ushered in and the program started with a brief welcoming speech by artistic director, Supradipta Datta. Shyama Mishra, the emcee for the evening was introduced and the program started with the invocatory piece Jaya Jagannath in praise of the presiding deity of Orissa. The dances then exponentially increased in the level of difficulty and expertise and students ranging from the ages of five to over fifty gradually took the stage to dance to Namo Ganesha, Mangalacharan, Aradhana and Nritya Bilas.

Some students were invited to speak about their experiences while learning the dance form and one senior college going student also mentioned how dancing Odissi provides her a stress-relieving outlet from her didactic studies. The dancers in Dasavatar, personified the grace and valor of the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu. Saraswati Bandana was an ode to the goddess of learning. Two Abhinaya pieces followed, the first describing the cosmic dance of Lord Krishna, and the second, Ardhanariswara depicting the contrasting yet complimentary attributes of the masculine (Shiva) and the feminine (Shakti) energies.

The evening ended with Mokshya Mangalam as is customary in a Odissi recital, where the dancers attempt to reunite the soul with the absolute. Mrs. Datta in her vote of thanks thanked everyone involved in making the evening possible.

Kalaangan has definitely made strides in the Houston community in its pursuit of promoting and bearing the torch of Odissi under the able guidance and leadership of Supradipta Datta.