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Manch Pravesh: Shruti And Priyanka Nanda


08/23/2018

As the audience gathered into the Littleton High School on August 11, 2018 in anticipation of Shruti and Priyanka Nanda’s, Odissi Mancha Pravesh, the dancers were a picture of poise and grace backstage. The word Mancha Pravesh literally means ascending to the stage for a dance student to demonstrate her classical dancing skills following years of rigorous training under an accomplished dance teacher. Guru Jayashree Mohapatra of Noopur Dance Academy, a highly respected and renowned exponent of Odissi, was beaming with pride at the performance of her accomplished students. She is an excellent dance teacher and an inspiring role model for her students.

Following the many months of ardent training and practice, Shruti and Priyanka prepared to ascend the stage. They received the blessings of their Guru, parents Nihar Nanda and Sushree Kar, on this special day. Before starting the ceremony, the dancers were especially fortunate to receive the blessings of their uncle Saswat Kar, extended family, and Swami Sarananandaji, resident Acharya of Chinmaya Mission Chicago.

Mancha Pravesh, dance graduation ceremony beautifully demonstrated the range and versatility of classical Odissi dancing skills.  Through the various degrees of complexities of their eight dances, it was easy to see that Shruti and Priyanka have a deep love for Indian classical dance and music and see dance as a bridge to connect people and cultures. There were many young classmates in the audience, that were introduced to the Odissi style of classical Indian dancing for the first time.

Beginning with Mangalacharan, the invocatory item, both dancers paid homage to Mother Earth and offered obeisance to Lord Jagannath. The central piece focused on a prayer to Lord Vishnu with ‘Shantakaram’. Then followed Battu Nrutya, by Shruti, a basic form of pure dance. She beautifully depicted the body movements and postures replicating ancient temple sculptures, that are playing musical instruments.

Next, Priyanka impressed the audience with her grasp of complex rhythmic patterns and her clean, crisp hand-foot movements in Mohana Pallavi. Pallavi was interwoven with a series of lyrical movements bringing out the elaborate grace and charm of Odissi.

Abhinya, or an expressional dance was the next offering. In this central piece ‘Barsha’ or rain, both Shruti and Priyanka delighted the audience, creating images of a dancing peacock, elephant, deer and snakes. The dancers depicted the gathering of clouds, how it evokes mood of the rainy season, its beauty and ultimate destruction. This dance, was deep and was truly a treat to watch. 

After a short intermission, Shruti began the second half of the program with the powerful and fast-paced Shiva Tandav, where she wowed the audience with her energy and grace. The next item, Priyanka took us into the dreamy land of Vrindavan. She brought life to the “Gopis” who are mesmerized by Krishna, his flute, and the peacock feather on his head. This piece was expressive, joyous, and sensuous in nature and was set to soothing, enchanting Indian flute music.

Shruti and Priyanka’s devotion carried on to the next piece, the Dashavatara, a composition by Sri Jayadeva that describes the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu. This piece was vivid, versatile and offered the best and the greatest range of skills as dancers, as they described each incarnation with varied actions and expressions. The Moksha was the final item in the Mancha Pravesh. Mokshya, began with a fast rhythmic nritta sequence, followed by an invocation to Goddess Shakti, seeking harmony and well-being for all mankind. This was a spiritually uplifting and devotional dance. Right up to the very end, Shruti and Priyanka drew in the audience, stood out throughout the recital and highlighted the feminine form, charm, and grace.

The speeches of gratitude and congratulations that followed showed all the hard work had finally come to fruition. Shruti and Priyanka were extremely thankful for Guru Jayashree Ji’s dedication and the valuable support during the weeks leading up to the Mancha Pravesh. Jayashree Mahapatra’s costume was designed by Suhana by Kalpana. The handwoven saree was based on the epic Mahabharata depicting Krishna's teaching to Arjuna portraying the rich tradition of Guru Shisya parampara.

Both Shruti and Priyanka looked absolutely stunning during the performance; thanks to Smt. Anu Metra’s for dress and makeup. The guests were impressed by the authentic Oriya decorations throughout the halls and the basic school cafeteria had been transformed into a banquet hall with custom center pieces representing key landmarks of Odisha. The concept was planned and executed by Synergyvents, especially Sanjeeb & Aparajita Swain and Prabhudutta Mohanty.

The striking brochure was designed by Subhransu Sekhar Tripathy, of Graphic Art Offset Press, Odisha. The stage set & deity decorations were breathtaking, representing the Mukteshvara temple, was put together by Saroj & Lily Panigrahi, Debadutta & Nibedita Behera. The program was assisted by Biswabhusan & Mamta Sahoo, Pradeep & Soni Sahoo, Sheffali Dash, Sangya Padhi, Bhavana Pati, Manorama Panigrahi, Prashant Sahoo and Heather backstage. The delicious and mouthwatering food was organized by Dr. Sourya Mahapatra and Manabesh Das.

In the midst of the claps and cheers, Shruti and Priyanka did not fail to thank each and every one of their, friends, well-wishers, and most importantly, parents for their constant love and encouragement throughout their journey.

The Mancha Pravesh was a big step in Shruti’s dance journey. Shruti is a self-motivated and driven young woman, we hope that she continues to pursue her passion and love for dance as she starts college this fall, at UMASS Amherst.  We wish Priyanka a rising junior at Acton Boxborough Regional High School, continue her dedication and wish her all the very best. We hope and pray that they will continue to be inspired and enjoy such cultural offerings that bridge cultures and humanity.



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