tandava-lasyaNovember 20 – 22, 1998
Premiere Dance Theatre
Toronto, Ontario

From November 20th to 22nd, 1998, Toronto's Premiere Dance Theatre thronged with art-lovers, enticed by the brain-child of Devraj Patnaik, Tandava/Lasya. Abstract and dualistic, it counterpoised the hard and soft styles of Odissi in a compelling and beautiful sequence of comparisons.

The first of these was Namastasyei Maa, a Sanskrit Abhinaya depicting the great ten-armed warrior-goddess Durga. Choreographed by Devraj Patnaik to music composed by Bhubaneswari Mishra, it was performed by the trio of Chitralekha, Ellora and Devraj Patnaik. They entered the stage bearing candles with which homage was paid to Lord Jagganatha, the deity of Odissi and the Ruler of the Universe. The devotees then invoke the blessing of the Great Mother, who is Strength and Peace.

The music for Kedar Pallavi was a product of the artistic union of Pandit Jyotindra Prasad Mishra and Devraj Patnaik, and marked Devraj's debut as a composer of Indian classical music. The dance was choreographed by guest choreographer Bichitrananda Swain of the Orissa Dance Academy and performed as a duet by Ellora and Devraj Patnaik.

Chitralekha Patnaik then performed the beautiful and sensuous Oriya Abhinaya Nahin Kiye Karidela, a piece of her own choreography which channeled the despair of the heroine as she awaited the overdue arrival of her beloved hero. The heroine tells her Sakhi (dear friend), "Who does he think he is? Please tell me, dear friend…"

Ardhanariswara (the Half Shiva Half Parvati form) is a comparison of Shiva to Parvati which demonstrates their transcendental unity through the various dissimilarities of their aspects and attributes. The devotees describe Lord Shiva as Tandava (the aggressive) and Parvati as Lasya (the soft). This spectacular choreography by Bichitrananda Swain to the musical genius of Ram Hari Das allowed Ellora and Devraj Patnaik to showcase their mastery as never before, and now stands as an edifice of the Odissi repertoire.

Two guest artists, Bharatanatyam Master Hari Krishnan and his student Nova Bhattacharya performed Bhavayami Raghuramam, a Chitralekha Odissi Dance Creations comission, and original choreography of Hari Krishnan's set to the inspired music of O.S. Arun. This stage-devouring item depicted Rama and Sita in select glimpses from the Ramayana.

The intermission was followed by the one-hour Oriya Dance Drama, Mahisaasura, which was choreographed by Bichitrananda Swain to music composed by Krushna Ray and K. Rama Rao Patra. A cast of nineteen consisting of Ellora Patnaik, Devraj Patnaik, Tanya Raha, Meenu Maltby, Sumona Sen, Malini Guha, Amrita Roy, Sarala Dandekar, Sulogna Sen, Ellora Jalali, Ronjana Sen, Farzana Syed, Anjali Pathak, Scotia Bhattacharya, Aunonna Chatterjee, Rini Roy, Anita Chakraborti, Ravi Mony and Azalea Ray. Elaborate stage-set and costume design, and moving lights combined to relate the tale of the mighty demon Mahisaasura, from his conquest of the Three Worlds to his defeat by the ten-armed goddess Durga. The climax of the drama was a magnificent duel between Durga, played by Ellora Patnaik, and Mahisaasura, played by Devraj Patnaik.