BHUBANESWAR:6/1/20: Eminent Odissi dancer Minati Mishra passed away on the wee hours of Monday at Switzerland. She was 91.
Family sources said she was suffering from old-age ailments and recently suffered a leg injury due to fall. She is survived by her son Sabitava Mishra.
Considered one of the pioneers of Odissi movement in the State, Mishra was also the oldest Odissi dancer as she kept performing till her late 70s. She had earned acclaim as a dedicated dancer for remaining true to the tradition.
Born in 1929 in Cuttack, the cultural capital of Odisha then, she took to dance at the age of seven. She was introduced to Odissi by Kabichandra Kalicharan Patnayak, known for his pioneering in-depth research on Odia dance styles. Later, she started training under Guru Kelucharan Mahapatra in 1950.She used to watch regularly stage plays like ‘Annapurna Rangamancha’ when they were enacted in her state.She drew her inspiration from performance of Laxmipriya Mohapatra, wife of Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra, and then climbed the ladder of her success as a prolific dancer through patience and devotion in her life. She is perhaps the only dancer today (age of 80) who can still cast a spell though her dancing skills. Her dream is to dance till death. In order to enter classical dance training, she had wanted to complete post graduation in Odia literature first.
Upon completion of her studies, she availed a special scholarship of the Odisha Government to go to Rukmini Devi Arundale’s Kalakshetra in Madras where she learnt Bharatanatyam from Guru Chokalingam Pillai.
Mishra was also instrumental in giving Odissi music and dance an academic form. When the State Government established the Bhubaneswar-based Utkal Sangeet Mahavidyalaya in 1964 to revive Odisha’s cultural heritage, she took over as the principal of the college in 1966. She manned the post for 25 years (1966 to 1991) and created syllabus for taking up Odissi dance and music as subjects of degree education.At Switzerland, she taught the theoretical aspects of Odissi through her school ‘Kalinga Kala Tirtha’.
Apart from being a dancer, Mishra tried her hands at acting and did four Odia movies – ‘Surja Mukhi’, ‘Arundhuti’, ‘Jiban Sathi’, ‘ and ‘Sadhana’in the 60s. All four except film had received President’s Award for best regional cinema.
She was awarded the prestigious Central and State Sangeet Natak Akademi Awards in 2000 and 1975 respectively for her contribution to the dance form. She was conferred with Padmashree in 2012. Members of the Odissi fraternity have condoled her death.