A long and stellar career best describes this beautiful danseuse, Mrs.Lipsa Satpathy’s tryst with the Odissi dance form. Having performed in over 10 countries across the globe, she is open to experimenting with this classical dance form, infusing some new elements, if it helps Odissi reach out to a wider audience. In this exclusive interview with Coffee Bytes, Mrs. Satpathy shares her odyssey with Odissi, her future plans and desires.
How did your love affair with Odissi begin?
I was introduced to the world of Odissi at the tender age of 5, by mother Mrs. Chitralekha Das, an exponent of the dance form herself. I started learning Odissi from Guru Niranjan Rout. As far as I can recollect, I was never interested in Odissi and came up with all sorts of excuses to skip my Odissi classes. Subsequently, I started picking up the nuances of this dance form and participated in many competitions. I gradually fell in love with Odissi and began performing at various prestigious festivals. Since then there has been no looking back.
Tell us about the experience of your first Odissi performance.
My first performance, was at the annual function of my dance institute in Bhubaneswar, when I was just 7 years old. Though I have faint memories of that performance, my mother says I had enjoyed performing on stage and showed no signs of nervousness.
You share a great rapport with Guru Niranjan Rout. How much of an influence did Guruji have on you?
I could not have reached this far in Odissi, had I not been supported and blessed by Guruji. He is a father figure to me. He has always motivated me to respect the art and never to quit the practice and sadhna! Besides, I am privileged to have learnt Odissi from legendary Odissi Gurus like Guru Gangadhar Pradhan, Guru Bichitrananda Swain and Guru Aruna Mohanty, as well.
You got married rather early in life, when you were at the peak of career. Any regrets?
Never! Infact, I was happy moving into the second phase of my life. I am glad, I was encouraged to continue Odissi even after marriage. Though it was not easy to resume Odissi after marriage, my passion kept me going. I am indebted to my husband and inlaws for the moral support.
Do you look up to any particular Odissi dancer?
I am hugely fond of eminent Odissi exponent Mrs. Sujata Mohapatra! Her focus, dedication and passion towards Odissi is commendable. Though I have never got a chance to perform with her, I hope to perform alongside her in the near future
Any unforgettable moment from your career, that you would like to share?
There are quite a few! Once, after my performance at Pallav Utsav in Mysore, I was told backstage that the audience was in awe of my performance. They even compared me to the Odissi legend Late Sanjukta Panigrahi. I was only 18 and didn’t expect that kind of a compliment coming at such a young age!
You have travelled around the world for the performances. Do you think Odissi is flourishing outside Odisha?
Yes! In fact foreigners enjoy watching Odissi despite having minimal knowledge about it. Most importantly, they are attracted to the jewellery and the bright Odissi costume (laughs). There is a huge craze for Odissi in Japan. Given a chance, I would love to perform in Japan time and again!
How do you foresee the future of Odissi?
Not just Odissi, the future of every classical dance form seems bright. The way people have started accepting all classical dance forms is very encouraging and heartening. A lot of dance festivals that are being organized, corroborate this belief .
What remains an unfulfilled dream?
Performing a solo piece at the prestigious Khajuraho Festival remains a long cherished dream! Apart from Odissi, find Mohiniattam very intriguing & enticing and hope to learn it soon..