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Odisha Pays Tribute To Legendary Odissi Dancer Padmashree Sanjukta Panigrahi


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24 August 2019

Snigdha Chandan Das


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Bhubaneswar: A bunch of classical dancers presented their skills at Rabindra Mandap in Bhubaneswar on Saturday in tribute to the Prima Donna of Odissi Padmashree Sanjukta Panigrahi on her 75th Birth Anniversary.

The event was organised by Sanjukta and Raghunath Panigrahi Cultural Heritage Foundation in association with Department of Tourism and Guru Kelu Charan Mohapatra Odissi Research Centre.

On this occasion Odisha-born MP in Kenyan Parliament, Swarup Ranjan Mishra said that Indian dance and movies are famous in Kenya and asserted that he will by grace of Lord Jagannath set up a dance academy at Nairobi in the name of Sanjukta Panigrahi.

Indian academic and writer Pratibha Ray said that when people were not able to locate Odisha on the world map, they were able to find the State by uttering the name of Sanjukta. There is need to train the future generation in the dance form to keep her legacy alive.

Born in Berhampur on August 24, 1944, Sanjukta had started to learn dance from legendary Indian classical dancer and exponent of Odissi dance Kelucharan Mohapatra at the age of four.

In later stage she graduated with a Nrityapraveen diploma in Bharatnatyam with Kathakali as the second subject from Kalakshetra in Chennai but returned to Odisha to concentrate on Odissi.

At Kalakshetra, she had fallen in love with Raghunath Panigrahi, ten-year her senior, and a fine vocalist of Gita Govinda, who left a promising career in film music in Chennai, to provide vocal support in her performances. In the coming decades, the Sanjukta-Raghunath duo enthralled the audience and were jointly awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1976. 

Sanjukta later came to be known as Guru Kelucharan Mahapatra's greatest disciple, and they travelled the length and the breath of the India, performing together and popularising the almost lost dance form of Odissi, so much so that today, both are considered equal revivalists of the dance form.

She continued to perform in most of the State functions. With her pioneering efforts, she brought forth an almost forgotten Odissi style of dancing to an important position in the dance repertory of India. She died of cancer at the age of 52, on June 24, 1997.

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Swarup Ranjan Mishra, Kenyan MP

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Pratibha Ray, Writer

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Babu Panigrahi, Sanjukta Panigrahi's Son