Guru Ratikant Mohapatra
In the universe of Indian classical dance & music Ratikant has carved for himself an enviable niche as a dancer, percussionist, teacher & archivist. In the last 25 years, together with his father Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra, he has been able to establish a firm imprint of Odissi in the consciousness of audiences in many countries abroad and dozens of venues in this nation.
Drawing on a vast reservoir of creative talent found abundantly in father Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra & mother Laxmipriya, the young Ratikant demonstrated a precocity far beyond his youthful age. More in love with percussion than the schoolbook, Ratikant rapidly evolved into a masterful player of the Odissi ‘Mardala’ and a leading male dancer to adorn the stage by the age of 16.
The Times of India newspaper described him as the “young Kelucharan”. Barely in his twenties, he collected a string of accolades for his dual skills, demonstrating them with a typical ease and flair in numerous stage performances, and workshops in India & abroad. He rendered enthusiastic & invaluable support to Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra in organizing, performing and assisting Guruji in the 1980’s when the doyen of classical Odissi traveled abroad frequently to establish a global presence for the dance that represents, today, the acme of Oriya cultural heritage, & its dynamic evolution.
The stamp of the Kelucharan Gharana is evident in Ratikant’s soft & hypnotic style of playing the Mardala – the priceless inheritance from Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra himself, acquired by the second-generation exponent through hard & unstinted labour-from childhood.
As the Director of SRJAN, (Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra Odissi Nrityabasa), he has single–handedly created a world-class dance institute, which attracts students from all over the globe for extended periods of learning Odissi dance. In this, he has tirelessly emulated Guruji himself who devoted his entire life & energies into grooming dancers of the caliber of Sanjukta Panigrahi, Sonal Mansingh, Madhavi Mudgal and many others. Added to this, Ratikant organises regular summer workshops for senior students & beginners to help them to absorb the highly subtle & nuanced dance that has been fashioned by the Guru Kelucharan Gharana in Odissi.
An additional accomplishment by Ratikant is in his role as a choreographer, and that too, a highly applauded one. He has already choreographed more than 30 new Odissi items , all of them having received enthusiastic response and accolades for innovation, quality music and fluency. They are “Jatayu Mokshya”, “Allah”, “Tarana Pallavi”, “Suna Manna, “Bhaja Govindam”, “Om”, “Gita Govinda”, “Charukeshi Pallavi (in the 9-beat Adda tala)”, “Mrutyu”, to mention only a few. Ratikant modestly dedicates all this to his father and Guruji and ascribes this excellence to long years of observing Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra choreograph new pieces and tirelessly work them until the last little detail is perfected. Ratikant’s perfectionism and his uncompromising attention to the minutest detail mirrors his departed Guruji’s sense of style & sensitivity to the ambience created by the dance, the music, and the dancer - an inheritance well received and equally well looked after.
His accomplishments has been acknowledged by a number of awards including “Pride of India 2004”, “Sanjukta Panigrahi Samman 2005” and “Nrutya Bhushan” by International Dance & Theatre Festival 2005.
Ratikant’s versatility and creative energy have found recent expression in celluloid too. He has choreographed Odissi dance sequences for an Indo–Chinese film “The Desire” and has guided the performance of noted film stars Jayaprada and Shilpa Shetty in it. The sequences have been set to classical Odissi music. This is the very first instance of a Bollywood film featuring classical Odissi dance.