Swapnokalpa Dasgupta (Roychowdhury), Head of Programming, Dance Division, NCPA (Mumbai) is an outstanding disciple of legendary Guru, Late Kelucharan Mohapatra and Guru Poushali Mukerji, and is a dancer proficient in the Odissi style of Indian classical dance. Swapnokalpa started her training under Guru Kelucharan Mahapatra since her early childhood, and was considered by him as one of his talented disciples and an established, dedicated and devoted Odissi dancer with a sense of neat artistry and discipline. After his untimely death in 2004, Swapnokalpa continued her training under Guru Poushali Mukherjee. Under the tutelage of both the gurus, she has mastered the art and technique of Odissi dance.
Swapnokalpa had been pursuing a professional career as a performer and teacher since last several years. She has performed in a number of prestigious venues and events in India, UK and France as a solo artist, which has earned her wide appreciation. She charms her audience with her expression and grace, combined with an excellent blend of sensuous moves and graceful foot work. In recognition of her talent and achievements, the Ministry of Culture of the Government of India awarded her the National Scholarship for Odissi dance in 2001. She was also awarded and recognized as a 'Nabin Pratibha' (New Talent) by the Paschim Banga Rajya Sangeet Academy (Directorate of Culture), Government of West Bengal State, India in 1999. In 2002, the Eastern Zonal Cultural Centre of the Government of India awarded her in the Prativa Utsav (Talent Festival) organized in Kolkata (Calcutta), India for her proficiency in Odissi dance. She is in the panel of artistes selected by the national television network of India, Doordarshan, for dance and other cultural programs organised by Doordarshan (Bangla).
She has a dance school in Kolkata (Calcutta), India, and was a Odissi dance teacher at the prestigious Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, London, UK - Indian Institute for Art & Culture. Apart from conducting dance classes, she has organised workshops in various schools and institutions in India, UK and France. She has, on various occasions, been an instructor in the Dance Appreciation Course conducted by the Paschim Banga Rajya Sangeet Academy (Directorate of Culture), Government of West Bengal State, India.
Swapnokalpa had been actively involved in working with underprivileged children of the society. She worked with a charitable institute in Kolkata (Calcutta), India and taught dance to underprivileged children regularly. Swapnokalpa is trained in Dance Movement Therapy and has used this art therapy technique to build on self-esteem, confidence and communication skills among these underprivileged children. She also performed at a large number of charitable events and programmes.
Swapnokalpa is interested in working on preserving the centuries-old rich and diverse traditions of Indian classical dances. She wants to work on the ways and means of preserving this valuable heritage in an effective manner and disseminating this knowledge to the largest possible number of people in India and abroad, particularly the younger generation. Swapnokalpa has completed a Masters programme in Arts and Heritage Management from the London Metropolitan Business School, London, UK.
Diploma in Classical Odissi Dance (Sangeet Visharad) (1993-1998) – Pracheen Kala Kendra (Art & Culture)
Trained in Odissi Dance by legendary Guru Kelucharan Mahapatra and Guru Poushali Mukerji (approximately 15 yrs)
Master of Arts (MA) in Arts and Heritage Management (with merit)- London Metropolitan University Business School (2011)
Dance Movement Therapy
One year Foundation course in Dance Movement Therapy from PACE, Goldsmith College, University of London (2009)
Introduction to Dance and Movement Therapy from School of Human & Life Sciences, Roehampton University, London (2008)
Workshop on Dance Movement Therapy organized by the Roehampton University, London (2008)
Bachelor of Education (BEd) – Calcutta University, St. Xavier’s College (2006)
Bachelor of Science (BSc) – Calcutta University, St. Xavier’s College (2004)
Member of the West Bengal Dance Group Federation, West Bengal, India (Associate)
The finest moments in the history of our civilization are those when our logic and science combines with the Mother Nature to give birth to new creations. It may be in the field of science and technology, may be in the field of art and culture or any other creative media.
Odissi dance, as the art form stands today, represents one such school of performing art where limitations of human performance is challenged by ultimate devotion of the performers. The result of course is something sublime, something visualizing which will be an ever enchanting experience for you.
It (Odissi dance) is the typical classical dance form of Orissa and has its origin in the temples. The rhythm, the bhangis and mudras used in Odissi dance have a distinctive quality of their own. Odissi dance deals largely with the love theme of Radha and Krishna. It is a lyrical form of dance with its subtelety as its keynote. The intimate relationship experienced between the poetry and music in Odissi is a feature on which the aesthetics of the style is built. It is a "sculpturesque" style of dance with a harmony of line and movement, all its own.
The history of Odissi dates back to somewhere between the 8th and the 11th century, when the kings took great pride in excelling in the arts of dance and music. It is during these centuries that inscriptions referring to "Devdasis", the women who were conseciated to the worship of the deity, were carved at the Brahmeshwar temple. "Devdasis" apparently played an important part in the temple ritual and were required to perform from early evening to the bedtime of Lord Jagannath, the temple deity of Puri.
Jayadeva's "Geeta-Govinda", the bible of an Odissi dancer, written in the 12th century, has stupendous influence on the arts of Orissa. The "Ashtapadis" were marked with specific ragas and talas. Around the 15th century, during the reign of Surya Dynasty, the element of "abhinaya" or expressional dance entered Odissi. During the same time Maheshwar Mahapatra wrote his "Abhinaya Chandrika", an elaborate treatise on Odissi dance style, and today, the basic to any study of it. By the 16th century, there were three kinds of dancers in Orissa: the "Maharis" in the temples, the "Nachunis" in the royal court, and the "Gotipuas" in the gymnasiums - who performed for the public. The religious revival of the 18th century saw a return of temple patronage to the arts. But the "Maharis" were slowly disappearing and their place was being taken by the "Gotipuas", young boys dressed as girls. These boys were trained in physical culture in the "Akhadas", and it was them who preserved the basic for restructuring of the ancient dance tradition.
The technique of Odissi is based upon the "Chowka", a manly posture, and the weight of the body is distributed equally on both the sides. It is the posture of Lord Jagannath of Puri and reflects the balanced, all-encompassing and universal quality of "dharma" of Lord Jagannath. It is a "Sambhanga" or equally distributed position in terms of weight.
Next comes the "Abhanga" position, in which body weight is displaced to any one side due to deflection of one or the other knee, in either standing or half sitting posture.
Then comes the "Tribhanga" position, the three-bend posture, in which a series of triangles are formed in the body. The bends are made at the knees, the torso and the neck. It is an extremely feminine posture represented in sculptures of female figures and is based upon the Hindu concept of iconography.
What is interesting about Odissi is that body position is not merely a part of the vocabulary or frame-work. The posture by itself conveys a particular mood or message. The names of these postures too express the moods they represent.
The verses used by the Odissi dancer for narration are extremely ornate in content and suggestion. The finest example of these are of course, the "Ashtapadis" of the "Geeta-Govinda". Several considerations would contribute to the delineation of these items for expressions in dance. They would mainly involve the spiritual and devotional aspect on one hand, and the "Sringara" (the aspect of love) on the other hand. Quite simply, this could signify the human element in God and the element of Godliness in man. The "Abhinaya" in Odissi is evocative and classical in its stylization and is often interspersed with "Nritta" (the pure dance), which interludes as connecting link between two verses or ideas.
Items presented for an Odissi recital form a pattern of development which is both physically practical and also aesthetic. The "Mangalacharan" is an offering made at the start of the programme. "Rangamancha-pravesh" is the entry on to the stage with floral offering. "Rangabhumi pranam" is thr salutation to the stage and the earth, and is the first concept or idea. This is followed by the "Ishtadeva vandana" - an obeisance made to the dancers' favourite deity. The "Trikhandi-pranam" follows, where salutations are made to the goda, the guru, and the audience, thus concluding the item with "Anjali-hasta" - a gesture of greetings and devotion.
The "Batu" is an item of pure dance that is derived from the influence of the Tantric worship of Balukeshwar Bhairav, an aspect of Lord Shiva. The "Pallavi"is an elaboration of both dance and music. "Abhinaya" comes next, involving enactment of a lyric, followed by the concluding item "Moksha" which is liberation - which is the main aim of life and possibility of attaining is through devotional practice of the art of dance.
The costume of the Odissi dancer is a silk saree draped in a practical and comfortable style. The wears the head ornament called the "Mathami", "Kapa" on the ears, "Kankana" on the wrists, armlets called "Bahichudi" or "Tayila" and an elaborate belt. She wears on her ankles bells strung together on a single cord. A "Padaka-tilaka", a necklace with a locket rests on the chest. An Odissi dancer has elaborate hair-do in a knot adorned with the "Tahiya" which represents a temple tower. Garlands of flowers are woven into the hair. Palms and soles are painted with a red liquid called the "Alta". The musicians accompanying the dancer are mainly the pakhawaj players, the flutist, and a singer.
Dance is an expression of man's joy through rhythmic and spontaneous movements. This pure expression and energy, when put in a classical mould must strictly adhere to the codes of a systematized technique, and Odissi bases itself on a wealth of such techniques which make this dance aesthetically appealing and visually delightful.
This dance tradition was kept alive by the devadasis. Those who were attached to the Jagannath Temple were all Vaishnavitcs and those at Bhubaneswar were attached to Shaivite temples. Before the introduction of the Gitagovinda in temples, the devadasi used to dance to the recitation of hymns and bols of talas. But after Gitagovinda became part and parcel of the rituals, tile devadasis performed abhinaya with different bhavas and rasas.
The Gotipua system of dance was performed by young boys dressed as girls. In this tradition one can detect jerking movements in place of smooth translations from one posture to another. Ray Ramananda the Governor of Rajamahcndri as a musician dancer and dramatist who taught dancing to a group of boys selected to enact his dance drama, jagannath Vallabha Nataka. it was performed in the Gotipua style.
The different items of the Odissi dance style are Managlacharna, Batunrya or Sthayi Nata, Pallavi, Abhinaya and Moksha. In mangalacharana the dancer dedicates herself to the Lord and begs forgiveness of the Mother Earth for stamping her feet upon her; she apologises to her audience for any shortcomings and offers salutations to the Guru. Batu Nrytya is pure dance. It begins with a series of sculpturesque poses symbolising the playing of the veena, drum, flute or cymbals. Pallivi is extremely graceful and lyrical. The tune is in some raga and is sung to the accompaniment of Sargam and Bols. Through facial expressions abhinaya depicts rasa and bhava to bring out the meaning and mood of songs. Generally the songs written by poets, Banamali, Upendra Bhanja, Baladeva Rath, Gopala and Jayadeva are sung. Moksha Nrutya is the last item, performed to the accompaniment of rhythmic syllables. It has a fast tempo. The soul of the dancer is supi to merge with the Divine as the dancer becomes ecstatic. Odissi dance is an effort to come near God and experience true bliss.
Commendable efforts were made in recent times by many enthusiasts to promote Odissi among whom stands out the name of late Kavichandra Kalicharan Patnaik. The gurus who raised the dance form to the level of international eminence are padmabhusan Kelu Charan Mahapatra, winner of Kalidas Samman, Padmashree Pankaj Charan Das and Deba Prasad Das. Renowned artists of Odissi Dance include Priyambada Hejmadi, Padmashree Sanjukta Panigrahi, Minati Mishra, Kumkum Mohanty, Oopalie Oparajita, Sangeeta Das, etc.
Indicative list of some of Swapnokalpa's solo dance performances:
United Kingdom and France
- Ananda Utsav, Alexender Palace, London (2010).
- Rencontres de la danse Indienne, Montpellier (2009).
- Dance India, Lowry Theatre, Manchester (2009).
- Indian Summer, British Museum, London (2009).
- Garden and Cosmos, British Museum, London (2009).
- Indian classical dance performances, Brady Arts Centre, London (2008 and 2009)
- Indian Dance festival, Belfast (2008).
- Solo night at the Nehru Centre, Indian High Commission, London (2008).
- Utsavam, Horniman Museum, London (2008).
- Indian classical dance performances, Harrow Arts Centre, London (2009, 2008 and 2007).
- Indian classical dance performances S-TV, London (2008 and 2007).
- Tasherdesh, Watermans Arts Centre, London (2007).
- Udayshankar Birth Centenary Celebration organized by West Bengal Government, Eastern Zonal Cultural Centre in 2000 (as the youngest artiste) and 2006.
- E-TV Mahalaya Programme (2006).
- Max Mueller Bhavan (German Consulate) at the 12th Salt Lake Music Festival.
- Biswa Banga Millennium Sammelan in 2000.
- Kalakunj in 2000 under the auspices of Ganguly College of Music, Bangla TV London.
- International Conference of Anthropological Survey of India, in 2002.
- Biswa Shanti Mancha, Haldia Utsav, 2002 and 2005.
- Mayapur Iscon at the National and International stages on the auspices of birthday celebration of Sri Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
- "Shahar Mela", Milani Hall, Jamshedpur on an invitation from "Shahar" Jamshedpur.
- Performed in the presence of Dr. APJ Abul Kalam, former President of India (during the tenure of his presidentship) at the VI World Congress of Jesuit Alumnae, St Xaviers College Auditorium, Park Street, Kolkata.
- Special programme for the underpriviledged organised by "You & I".
- Odissi Dancers' Forum, 2006.
- Manipuri Festival organized by the Eastern Zonal Cultural Centre.
- Maghotsav festival organized by Vishwa Bharati, Shantiniketan.
- Performed in front of the Chief Minister of West Bengal in a special programme organized by the St. Xaviers College.
- Golfgreen Phase III, IV and VII Sarbojanin Durgotsav.
- Swabhumi, Calcutta.
- All India Engineers Association of Prasar Bharati.
She has also anchored a game show called "Family No.1", televised in India on DD-7 Channel of Doordarshan (Kolkata Television).
Swapnokalpa - her Dance Troupe and Students
Indicative list of programmes directed and performed along with her dance troupe and students:
- Performed at the Mahostsav, Bharatiya Vidya bhavan
- Indian Summer, Bristish Museum
- Rudolf Steiner house, London (dance drama)
- Brady Art centre, London
- Shivaratri festival, Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan, London
- Nadi Utsav organized by the Govt. of West Bengal.
- Lake Town Festival organized by the Govt. of West Bengal.
- Durga Puja culturals organized by the Pragati Club (Andheri), Ambarnath Ordnance Factory and many more.
- Future Foundation School, Aurobinda Bhawan.
- Doordarshan (TV), Kolkata on the occasion of Holi.
- EZCC (Govt. of India).
- Performed in the presence of German Delegates and Members of Parliament in a special programme organised by a German NGO.
- Aurobindo Bhawan on the eve of birth centenary of Shri Aurodindo.
- BBA inauguration in St. Xaviers College, Kolkata.
- Performed in the presence of delegates from University Grants Commission India.
Voluntary charitable work by Swapnokalpa
- Swapnokalpa had been actively involved in working with underprivileged children and women of Kolkata. She had worked with Sri Sri Aranya Kumari Vidyapith, a charitable school in Kolkata as teacher of dance and music for underprivileged children and women.
- Worked as a dance teacher in Lake Gardens Women and Children Development Centre with children and women living in slums.
- Worked with Swapnoniye, a charitable institute as a dance teacher and as a fund raiser.
- Performed as a dancer at various charitable events and programs in India and in London.
Awarded First Division with Distinction in Odissi practical (years 1995, 1996 and 1998) for the Diploma course in Classical Odissi Dance (Sangeet Visharad) from Pracheen Kalakendra, Chandigarh, India.
Received the Nabin Pratibha (New Talent) award from the Paschim Banga Rajya Sangeet Academy (Directorate of Culture), Government of West Bengal State, India in 1999.
Awarded the prestigious All India National Scholarship (Senior) for Odissi dance by the Ministry of Culture, Government of India in 2001 (received this at the age of 18; one of the youngest dancers in India to have received this award).
Awarded for her proficiency in Odissi dance in the Prativa Utsav (Talent Festival) organised in 2002 by the Eastern Zonal Cultural Centre, Government of India.
She is in the panel of artistes (graded artiste) selected by the national television network of India, Doordarshan (Bangla) for dance and other cultural programmes organised by the network.
Appointed as a dance instructor in the Dance Appreciation Course conducted by the Paschim Banga Rajya Sangeet Academy (Directorate of Culture), Government of West Bengal State, India (2002 and 2006).
Appointed as a teacher of Odissi dance (junior level) at the prestigious Dance India - The International Dance Summer School, Manchester, UK (2008).
Had been a teacher of Odissi dance at the prestigious Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, London, UK - Indian Institute for Art & Culture.
Earlier, apart from regular classes, innovative workshops were organised by Swapnokalpa from time to time. The following are only a few of them:
- Odissi dance workshops have been conducted by Swapnokalpa in London and Manachester, UK and in Montpellier and Paris, France.
- Workshops on Indian Culture and Heritage and Indian Dances were regularly conducted by Swapnokalpa at various schools in London and its surrounding areas like Peterborough Primary School, Melcombe Primary School, Bayonne Nursery School.
- Odissi dance workshops are conducted at the Swapnokalpa Dance School in Kolkata by Guru Poushali Mukerji.
Besides Odissi students, students of other classical dance forms are also welcome for appraisal.
Schools interested in Swapnokalpa's workshops on Indian Culture and Heritage and Indian Dances and Odissi students and other institutes interested in Odissi workshops may contact her.
Indicative list of dance dramas produced by Swapnokalpa:
- Chandalika based on the works of nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore.
- Tasher Desh based on the works of nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore.
- Sri Radhar Manbhanjan based on Padabali Kirtan.
- Rituranga – the seasons.
- Bhanu Singher Padabali based on the works of nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore.
- Borsha – the rain.
- Shyama - dance drama based on the life of a court dancer, written by nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore.
- Chitra the warrior princess –based on the works of Rabindranath Tagore.
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Sajani Sajani Radhika Lo -
Odissi Classical Indian Dance -
Odissi Classical Indian Dance -
Manipuri by Greenlawns
"Swapnokalpa is one of the talanted disciples of mine, who is an established Odissi dancer since past several years. She is a devoted and talanted dancer and her training has infused in her a sense of neat artistry and discipline."
Legendary Guru Shri Kelucharan Mohaparta - 2002
"I can safely say that she is one of the best Odissi dancers that I have seen in my teaching and dance career."
Guru Poushali Mukherjee - 2008
"Swapnokalpa is an extremely talanted Odissi dancer of her generation groomed under the guidance of Late Guru Kelucharan Mahapatra. I really consider her as a very promising and talanted upcoming classical dancer of the future and I hope she will be the topmost torch bearer of Kelucharan ji's lineage of dance."
Noted sarod player, Shri Tejendra Narayan
"Swapnokalpa is exceptionally talanted with expressive gestures and eloquent movements."
The Statesman, Kolkata, India - 2002
"Pick of the pack: Swapnokalpa at Rabindrasadan."
The Telegraph, Kolkata, India - 2002