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Debamitra Sengupta, an eminent exponent of Odissi

0005Debamitra Sengupta, eminent Odissi exponent from India, a senior disciple of Late Padmavibhushan Guru Kelu Charan Mahapatra, has been appreciated both as a performer and choreographer in the field of classical Odissi dance in the country and abroad for the last couple of decades. She also honed her skills under the able guidance of Late Padmashree Sanjukta Panigrahi and Smt Sutapa Talukdar.

Debamitra is an empanelled artist of ICCR – Ministry of External Affairs, EZCC – Ministry of Culture, Govt. of India, Doordarshan, and Pracheen Kala Kendra, Chandigarh, recipient of Production Grant from Ministry of Culture, Government of India and blessed to have been bestowed with the honour of ‘Aasthana Vidushi’ from the 33rd Acharya of Shakatapuram, Shrividya Peetam, Karnataka for her characteristic soulful renditions. Besides performing in several prestigious programs all over India, Debamitra presented Odissi recital in prominent places of North America (Seattle, San Francisco, Atlanta, Boston, New York & Washington D.C.) and her group choreographies at recent tours to Myanmar (under Ministry of External Affairs, Govt. of India) and Bangladesh (under Ministry of Culture, Govt. of India) enthralled distinguished audiences all along with raving reviews from the press/media.

Debamitra is also well known for grooming new talents, teaching is indeed her forte. Debamitra is the founder director of her Odissi dance institution ‘Kolkata Mayur Lalit Dance Academy’ (since November 1, 2004) where she imparts lessons to hundreds of students on techniques and nuances of this sublime Odissi dance form.

Debamitra as a Choreographer:

0003Being a natural dancer, Debamitra used to enact the scenes of the ‘Ramayana’ and the ‘Mahabharata’ at the tender age of 5 while her grand-parents read out the epics to her. She needed no music, an inherent sense of rhythm helped her to express herself through her limbs spontaneously and vividly even at that age. For decades now she mastered in this art form, received detailed training in the field of Chhou, Yoga, Mime and Classical dances of India. She treasures her association with the famous Gurus and Performers of India who groomed her body, mind and soul.

The creativity she inherited naturally was nurtured by her practice and researches helped her to compose and choreograph over the subjects which are attractive, appealing both aesthetically and spiritually. Her keen interest in choreography has led her to experiment with unique forms like Padabali Kirtan, Classics from Bengali and Sanskrit Literature, Rabindra Sahitya, – thus she created innovative movements and choreographed several fascinating productions in Odissi Style like – ‘Raas Lila’, ‘Meghnad Badh’, ‘Chitrangada’, ‘Shyama’, ‘Shapmochan’, ‘Biswa Bhara Pran’, ‘Hridi Brindabaney’, ‘Meghdootam’ which are being widely applauded in India and Abroad.

Her Nimble footwork – dexterous. Her sinewy movements – sculpturesque and graceful. Her mesmerising ‘abhinaya’ transports the audience to her make-believe world of Radha-Krishna or Chandi.Since more than the last two decades Odissi Exponent Debamitra Sengupta creates such sheer magic with her very own characteristic performances and enthralls the connoisseurs, as well as the masses all along ranging globally – be it her performances at the notable festivals and programmes in her home state, West Bengal, or at the prominent venues of the capital, New Delhi, down south at Coimbatore, significant performances at the United States in different cities including India Arts & Heritage Society, Seattle, very prestigious performance at the National Theatre, Yangon during the recently concluded performance tour of Myanmar under the ICCR, Ministry of External Affairs, Govt. of India with the key essence of strengthening relationship between the neighbouring countries through art and culture. A passionate Odissi learner and wannabe Geologist Debamitra joined a workshop by the late Padmabibhushan Kelucharan Mohapatra in the year 1988 and was so enamoured by the maestro that she took the most vital decision of her life to be a professional classical dancer. So she left her post graduation and pursued her training under the renowned Guru, started visiting and staying at his Cuttack residence. Though her association with Smt. Sutapa Talukdar who initiated her into the world of Odissi was there all along.

The making of ‘Raas Lila’ was the next turning point of her life. With thorough research she worked on to create a rhythmic fusion on ‘Khol’ and ‘Pakhawaj’ to compose this unique Odissi dance ballet based on the dying art form of Bengal, Padabali Kirtan. Debamitra best known for her grace and fluidity shot to fame with her immaculate choreographic skills. Her passion for Bengali literature – Rabindra Sahitya, Classics like Meghnad Badh Kabya, works of philosopher poet Dilip Kumar Roy led her to conceive several fascinating productions choreographed in the form she understands best – Odissi.

During the very special period of ongoing celebrations of Rabindranath Tagore’s 150th Birth Anniversary, Debamitra’s compositions on notable works of Tagore in Odissi style have gone places with rich accolades in India and abroad. After her significant tour of Myanmar under the Government of India performing in the Tagore Celebration programmes, Debamitra recently undergone a commendable and a very prestigious tour of Bangladesh with her much accomplished team members to present ‘Chitrangada’ (in Odissi style) as part of the ongoing Joint Celebrations of the 150th Birth Anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore organized jointly by the Governments of India and Bangladesh. Showered with rich accolades and appreciations from the houseful audiences of the largest auditorium in Dhaka – The National Theatre, Shilpakala Academy…. and also at the serene Rajshahi Hall which was too full to the brim…. got standing ovation at both the places…all the admiration from the general audience and the V.I.P,s of the Bangladesh Government … the Press / Media made some very encouraging reviews and coverages..

0006Debamitra, an empanelled Classical dancer under the ICCR, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, is always in the process of modification and innovation; she strongly believes that our classical dance forms, which have a long cultural memory, would have become museum relics, without inputs of fresh energy to revive them at different points of time. In her latest production of ‘Shapmochan’, she has imbibed Myanmarese dance style into the indigenous Odissi thus creating a new style of her own, lyrical and sublime.

Teaching is also her another forte, besides running her Odissi Institution, Kolkata Mayur Lalit and conducting regular workshops all over India, this tech friendly danseuse teaches across the world through Skype.

More of a friend than mother to her 17-year old daughter, Nayanika, a budding Odissi talent being groomed under the watchful eyes of her mother, Debamitra treats all her students with the same affability. Best known as the ‘Cool Guru’ among friends and her senior students, she has changed the regular concept of teacher student relationship – no reprimanding, not even mild scolding and the overall amiable ambiance of her classroom made her so popular among her students. The little ones are pampered to the core, instead of wearing stereotype uniforms they are encouraged to wear fancy dresses, to put on lipsticks, kajal, bangles. The classroom looks like a party is going on and the students are so excited about their dance classes and their trendy teacher that they arrive much before their normal class timings and pester with their parents so that they may remain some more time even after the class got over. Thus with her very different approach Debamitra infuses such interest in her students and they are fluently exposed on the intricacies, nuances and techniques of this sublime Indian Classical dance form breaking the common perception or phobia about the classical dance being so rigid of a form or hard to learn.

Nayanika, a budding Odissi Dancer – Debamitra’s Daughter:

17 year old Nayanika is showing proficiency, both, in her Academics and the art of Odissi dance. A XIIth standard student of G.D.Birla Centre for Education, Kolkata, she came off with flying colours in her first Board Exam (ICSE) attaining 1st Position among the Ashok Hall Group of Schools with 96.6%. She is a promising Odissi dancer, travels extensively with her mother performing in prestigious programmes/festivals all over India and places Abroad.

Being groomed under the watchful eyes of her Mother for the last 10 years, Nayanika has made her presence felt as a striking performer with rich accolades from the connoisseurs and press/media.

Kolkata Mayur Lalit Dance Academy
Founder, Director : Smt. Debamitra Sengupta

Background –

Debamitra started teaching Odissi at a very early age of 20 at Gurukul, a premier school of classical dance in Kolkata. Debamitra groomed students at Gurukul for over a decade and became very popular as a teacher. Teaching is indeed her forte; She enjoys teaching as well and thought of starting an academy of her own which will be distinctively different.

mayurThus Kolkata Mayur Lalit Dance Academy started with an aim to groom dance lovers and produce perfect passionate dancers, not just performers. Students are given lessons on Natyashastra from a very early age. Along with traditional Odissi items choreographed by Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra, choreographs by Debamitra herself are also being taught here. Students are encouraged to compose and choreograph on their own to enhance their creative skills.

Apart from regular training of Odissi, lessons in Classical music and Pakhawaj are also imparted in annual workshops of the academy so that the children have definite knowledge in music and rhythm along with dance which are inter-related.

Lessons in Yoga are given from the very first day to acquire physical fitness and suppleness which are very essential for a classical dancer.

Students are also equipped with the knowledge on techniques of dance related make-up, costumes, hair-styling, stage craft, thus grooming into a complete dancer after 10 years of rigorous training.

The Academy –

Mayur Lalit started its journey from November 1, 2004. The academy aims at training students to be well versed in the language of classical dance so that they can face knowledgeable audience. A student taking admission in the academy is either placed in the junior or senior group as per ones ability and passion, age and previous experience plays no role in deciding the category. Mayur Lalit is government registered organization under ‘The West Bengal Societies Registration Act.1961 and affiliated with ‘Pracheen Kala Kendra’, Chandigarh. Along with maintaining the regular academic pattern, syllabus and examination schedule of Pracheen Kala Kendra, the curriculum of Mayur Lalit consists of :

For all learners – Strict regime of exercise and yoga to build necessary body fitness. An agile and flexible body helps to perform better, for this ‘anga shudhikaran’ is essential. Basic dance techniques and 5 Odissi items, on completion of which they can do ‘Mancha prabesh’ (Solo recital). For advanced learners – Along with exercise and yoga, the curriculum includes basic dance techniques and 10 advance dance items.

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