Spectacular Odissi!


By Anuranjita Nayak

HOUSTON: A unique experience it was by and for Hustonians. The first international Konark Festival enthralled more than 250 classical dance lovers, conglomerated at Pershing School auditorium a beautiful afternoon on May 6.

Why waste three whole hours? That too watching Indian Classical Dance? The skeptics might have thought…. But amazingly, oblivious to all, 3 hours just went by. It began with an opening song in Sanskrit in praise of motherland. Followed by Mangalachran; the commencing dance thanking the audience and salutation to Lord Ganesha, by odissi group dancers. Ensued many more stellar performances both solo and in group, by dancers from Odissi Academy in Houston.


Odissi Academy a 501(3)(c) not-for-profit organization started a year ago to promote the authentic style of Odissi teaching in Houston. It’s an extension of World’s largest Odissi School in India, Orissa Dance Academy, Bhubaneswar. Each year practicing Odissi guru visits Houston on a year long sabbatical to train young minds in Houston. This institution follows the traditional Odissi style of famous Gurus like Pankaj Charan Das and Kelu Charan Mohapatra.

The highlight of Konark Festival was a 40 minutes jaw dropping performance by none other than, Padmashree Guru Mrs Aruna Mohanty. Last month she was bestowed with the most prominent civilian award “Padmashree” from the President of India. Guru Aruna is one of the finest Odissi dancer of this era, and undoubtedly the queen of Abhinaya (dance drama). The audience sat motionless as if a spell was cast by her endearing presentation.


The icing on the cake was not just traditional cakes but a sprawling array of many delicacies from little known Orissian cuisine that gave appeasing end to the gustatory sense of the attendees. The food was free and the festival went on tapping to the rhythms of melodious live Odia songs by local artists.

Never before Houston experienced such east-meets-west event. Odissi Academy promises to bring such event each year with visiting artists from India.

For more about Odissi Dance learning opportunities and events please visit www.OdissiAcademy.com, or email at OdissiAcademy@gmail.com. Please enroll into mailing list by sending email.