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Lokvani Talks To Mouli Pal, Odissi Artist

Nirmala Garimella
03/14/2011

Mouli Pal, New England’s Odissi artist and teacher carries herself with a grace and quiet charm that comes from years of dedication to a classical dance art form, Odissi for which she is a proponent. The late celebrated maestro Sri Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra brought it to the world stage and revived its glory. His commitment to the art brought forth various talented artists through generations and many of them came to the US and promoted it to their communities. Mouli Pal is one such artist. Growing up in Kolkata she learnt Odissi from her Smt. Dipanwita Roy of Kolkata . While in high school she was inspired with a performance by Sanjukta Panigrahi , which prompted her to  attend workshops during the summers at  Srjan in Bhubaneswar with Guruji. Recalling those days Mouli says she feels blessed with the experience “We would start each day with Yoga and conditioning exercises, then practice dance till the end of the day. When evening came Guruji would light the aarti at the shrine and sing. It was amazing to hear him. It was all hard work because we would be practicing fourteen hours each day, yet we loved every moment of it.”

 

Describing the philosophy of her  school “Upasana’ she says“To me dance is really ‘upasana’ which means a prayer and a passion. I feel it has enriched my life, people around me”. Her goal for her students is to see them as lifelong dancers and understand its depth, its language through time and effort. Her belief is that a child must begin early between– 3 – 6 years.  “I believe that a child’s mind is like a sponge, ready to absorb traditions, imbibe its philosophy. Dance has   various elements to it – words, song, background, a combination of music and history. I use language from Sanskrit/Oriya when I teach so my students are familiar with them as they learn and grow up with them.

To achieve the goal of promoting Odissi, she conducts regular classes to dedicated students from diverse background and age groups, conducts workshops and demonstrations at libraries, schools, universities and cultural centers and periodically performs in public events. She and her group had given school enrichment programs at Brooks Elementary School Medford, Shawsheen Elementary School and Wildwood school, Lowell MA and St. Stephen’s after school program.

Recently at MIT and at Boston College she conducted a workshop on Art of Management through dance and conducted cultural appreciation for the art at Wilmington Public library, at Springstep, Medford and Groveland public Library. Various dance festivals in New England like  the Charles River dance festival, Children’s dance festival  and the  Cambridge River dance festival were introduced to the beauty of Odissi with participation of Mouli Pal and her group.     Fundraising events at Akshaya Patra Foundation,take a Swing at Cancer,AID Boston, We for Hope,and MITHAS have benefitted with their performances. Husband Sumit Pal supports her passion and recognizes the richness of the dance and her six year daughter Medha, she feels is blessed with a extended family with her students who come to her home. Mouli Pal still pursues her learning through her guru Smt Nandini Ghosal who will be visiting Boston in April.

All these activities finally prompted her to form into a nonprofit organization. It means a lot to Mouli,” This will help me focus on our goal of Upasana with support and resources. Members of the Board include Sarav Chidambaram President, Mouli Pal Founder – Director, Vrunda Shah founding director and finance controller, Darrah Bowden,coordinating and planning special events and community outreach. Also involved as advisors, Sumit Pal, Dr. Matthew Rosen and Ms. Anasuya Ray.Some of  her dedicated dancers who have been involved for several years are Melissa Huser, Devika Banerjee and Mita Banerjee.

One significant outcome of all these efforts is the setting of a Scholarship for students of Odissi. The criteria for selection according to Mouli Pal is learning and performing Odissi for 8 years, demonstrate genuine interest and excellence in Odissi dance,contribute to Upasana's program and classes during summer, promote the dance within college student community.

Her latest offering is  Taral Tarang, Lyrical Liquids", on April 10th   an evening of delightful Odissi exploring oceans, rivers, rains and clouds through the lyrical form of Odissi, at Springstep, Medford.

To register for the event RSVP:shelley.sanyal@dartmouth.edu

To view some performances check out the following links:

http://www.mefeedia.com/watch/29689550

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBZ1FNPTOM4

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qKrA3E12BeI

 

 

 



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Photo Credits: Nowfal Ibrahim













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