Odissi Guru Kelu Charan Mohapatra

Guru Kelu Charan Mahapatra is undoubtedly the most important figure in Odissi dance today and has been the guru at some time of nearly every important Odissi dancer and teacher in India and throughout the world. Born in Raghuraipur, a village in Orissa in 1926, he belongs to a family of Patachitra painters who used to paint patachitras of Lord Jeganath.

He started learning Gotipua Nritya and Pakhawaj under the great gurus, Mohan Sundar Deva Goswami and Pankaj Charan Das at an early age. He performed with a Rasleela troupe before joining the theatre. After Indian independence, he started to work to popularise Gotipua Nritya and the Mahari dance, and has subsequently received many awards for his contribution. He is one of the main architects of the contemporary Odissi repertoire and vocabulary. His creative ability is very evident in his choreography, while it is also informed by his study of ancient scriptures and sculpture in the temples of Orissa.

Guru Kelu Charan Mahapatra's attitude towards dance is, in essence, devotional; to him dance is not so much a vocation as it is an expression of life. Decades of hard work lay ahead. Kelubabu crafted a new visual aesthetic for Odissi defining movements, imagining choreographies, creating staple Pallavis, abhinaya and saabhinaya numbers that were to become the accepted ;traditional; margam of Odissi. Never before had an entire tradition been recreated by the magic and diligence of one man's hard work. Kelubabu was honoured with the Padma Vibhushan and the Kalidas Samman, amongst innumerable other awards. But to lovers of dance and rasikas of his art he was always a ;Vishwa Bhushan;.He was passed away on 7th April 2004.

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