Gotipua, the mother of Odissi dance

Traditionally Yours
Last Updated 20 February 2013, 15:57 IST

Odissi dance today is seen with all its grandeur and richness because of its precursor, Gotipua dance. Gotipuas have been nurturing this art form with all its pristine flavour and glory since long.

The uniqueness of Gotipua dance is its combination of song and dance by young male dancers between the age of 5-15 years, who dress up as females to praise Lord Jagannath and Lord Krishna. They perform to scintillating lyrics penned by the renowned Odissi poets.

The acrobatic formations are another important feature of this art.

The boys do not cut their hair to make an elaborate hair-do in a knot and weave flowers into their hair aka girls. They apply make-up on their face with white and red powder mixed together to transform themselves into graceful feminine dancers.
Veteran and eminent Gotipua guru – Bhagirathi Mohapatra and Lingaraj Barik (vocalist) recently performed in the City at ‘Kalingutsav’, organised by Odissi exponent Ranjana Gauhar’s Utsav Educational and Cultural Society. With two abhinayas he demonstrated the typical nuances used in Gotipua dance.

Beginning with a customary Bandana – a devotional piece Janana in honour of Lord Jagannath, he performed to Dake dukhe jodi hata he, Jagannath ghena guhari manima in which he sought the Lord’s blessings and forgiveness for his sins. In his next abhinaya Bajuchhi sahi bajare to nare braja bajare, Mohapatra depicted how Radha feels embarrassed and humiliated by the bad name she gets in Braj for her union with Krishna.

Then the artistes of Naxatra Gurukul, wearing the traditional Kanchula initiated their Gotipua dance pieces with a Bhaja tu manasare, Ram Gobind Hare and went on to perform Swara Pallavi, a pure dance.

Then came Radha-Krishna leela, for which Gotipua is most popular. young boys dressed as gopikas and Radha, performed a very fast-paced dance using hands and feet rather dextrously.

Ranjana, the founder-president of Kalingutsav, says, “It has been conceived to address and showcase the connection of classical dance with its roots and its many dimensions. We began the series with Gotipua to pay tribute to Odissi, which is also a part and parcel of my life’s commitment to the art. So personally, for me it holds special significance.”

“Gotipua underlines the fact that the folk and ethnic dances have been the source of classical dances which have eventually shaped the cultural heritage of our
country,” she adds.

Gotipua dance is performed during ‘Chandan Yatra’ – paste festival of  Lord Jaganath – celebrated for 22 days. Gotipua dancers perform before the Lord. The students of Naxatra Gurukul danced on Dekha go Radha Madhav chali that narrates the procession of five deities.

The evening concluded with Bandha nrutya which was a presentation of acrobatic poses like Radhakrishna Nataraj along with the traditional items ike Chira, Nahunia, Mayur, Chara Mayur, Sagadia and Olatacht.

(Published 20 February 2013, 15:57 IST)

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