World Arts West
SF Ethnic Dance Festival


Guru Shradha

GENRE: Odissi
First Appearance in EDF: 2014

Guru Shradha is a non-profit organization/dance company established by Niharika Mo hanty, a renowned odissi dancer, teacher, and prominent disciple of legendary founding father of odissi, Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra. In 2003, Guru Mohapatra gave Niharika his blessing to start her own formal institution, but unfortunately he passed away soon after this timely blessing. Guru Shradha, founded in 2008, aims to spread the true style of Guru Mohapatra’s dance throughout North America and abroad. Guru Mohapatra’s son and daughter-in-law, Guru Ratikant and Sujata Mohapatra, serve, respectively, as Key Mentor and Artistic Director of Guru Shradha.


TITLE: Megh Pallavi
CHOREOGRAPHER: Guru Ratikant Mohapatra
DANCERS: Maya Lochana Devalcheruvu, Akhil Srinivasan Joondeph

Guru Shradha presents MeghPallavi, a unique boy-girl duet, a purely technical piece (nritta) in the Odissi dance repertoire. Pallavi means blossoming and it refers to the nature of the piece—as we see an elaboration of graceful and lyric movement and music, building in complexity. The music is improvised in meghraga.

Odissi dance is from the state of Odisha in eastern India. It is one of the oldest surviving Indian dance forms, as evidenced by second-century BCE carvings in the Manchapuri Cave and early poses in Tantric and Shaivite temples. The dance became a form of worship to Lord Jagannath, an avatar of Vishnu, and its evolution is traced through temple carvings. Its unique grace is expressed in three elements: fluid torso movements, strong stamping footwork, and postures evoking temple sculptures.The two main postures are the chauka: a square stance symbolizing Lord Jagannath’s stance; and the tribhangi —three bends—stance with its deflection of the torso, bend of the head, and bend of the knees.

Both young dancers—Maya Lochana Devalcheruvu, age eleven, and Akhil Srinivasan Joondeph, age ten—have trained in odissi from age four and a half with Maya’s mother, Niharika Mohanty, with additional training from Guru Ratikant and Sujata Mohapatra. The original choreographer is Guru Ratikant Mohapatra, son of legendary maestro Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra. Niharika Mohanty, Maya, and Akhil learned the piece from him in June 2013 and he set this specialized duet for our stage in October 2013, working with the young dancers.

Odissi music is accompanied by recited mnemonic syllables to maintain rhythmic variations.The costumes are stitched from saris from Odisha, with ornamental silver filigree jewelry, works of art painstakingly crafted in an Odisha-based lineage at least five-hundred years old. Maya’s mukoot crown is made in Puri, Odisha, with reeds carved into flowers associated with Krishna and Radha. The top piece represents the spire of Lord Jagannath’s temple, located in Puri.

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