GURU GANGADHAR PRADHAN
Guru Gangadhar Pradhan was a pioneer in taking the dance form to new heights of glory. He was trained in the art of Gotipua. As his Gotipua dance stint gets over, he started learning mardala from Guru Singhari Shyamsundar Kar at Puri. Later on as a well-trained mardala player, he accompanied many dancers repute on stage like Smt. Sanjukta Panigrahi & Smt. Illeana Citaristi.
At the Utkal Sangeet Mahavidyalaya, which produced some noteworthy dancers of highest calibre, with Guru Gangadhar Pradhan being among them, after completion of the course of Natya Acharya from the Mahavidyalaya, he further perfected his skills under the tutelage of the most revered dance gurus like Guru Pankaj Charan Das, Guru Debaprasad Das & Smt. Minati Mishra. As part of a scholarship from the government of India, he also trained under the doyen of Odissi Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra.
In 1973, after drawing help from Pt. Raghunath Panigrahi & Smt. Sanjukta Panigrahi, etc, he started an organization called 'Natyaloka'. However, the name was later changed to 'Sunati' and finally in 1975 to Orissa Dance Academy, one of the premier cultural institutions of Odisha. Orissa Dance Academy has hugely contributed in the promotion & popularization of Odissi dance globally by imparting intensive training to artistes both in India and abroad. He also established the Konark Natya Mandap in 1985, which is a frontline institute imparting training in Odissi, Gotipua, Chhou, Pala and Odissi vocal.
As a choreographer, his creations and innovative ideas have guided many dancers from the state. From dance dramas to ballets in Odissi, Guru Gangadhar Pradhan used beautiful themes in his choreographies. He is known for his visionary steps to organise festivals such as the acclaimed Konark Dance & Music Festival and the Dhauli Mahotsav that attract Odissi lovers from all over the world to the state. A recipient of the Orissa Sangeet Natak Akademi award, the Central Sangeet Natak Akademi award as well as the Padma Shri award, Guru Gangadhar Pradhan was deeply humble person, a great artiste and a genial guru, his art legacy lives on with his countless students worldwide.
GURU SMT. ARUNA MOHANTY
Dynamism, charisma and astounding talent makes Guru Smt. Aruna Mohanty, one of the finest Odissi dancers in the field of Odissi dance. As the first student of the famed, Odisha Dance Academy (ODA) in Bhubaneswar under the able guidance Guru Gangadhar Pradhan, Smt. Mohanty considers dance, the essence of her soul. Rhythm in her feet connects her to the divine. The perfect blend of bhava, bhangi, tala & abhinaya radiate from her performances. Although her perception of dance & choreography is unconventional, she is vehemently careful about preserving the basic structure & aesthetics of Odissi art form. Guru Smt. Aruna Mohanty’s global outlook, her extensive research & knowledge, combined with her sensitivity to local issues, has made her a thoughtful artiste & choreographer.
She is admired for her works that include the likes of Shrusti-O-Pralaya, Pratinayaka, Gatha Odishi, Krishna Sharanam, Bhumisuta and many more. She has earned numerous accolades for her contribution to Odissi to include: the Mahari award, Sanjukta Panigrahi Memorial award, Fellowship by Ministry of HRD, Government of India, Central Sangeet Natak Akademi award in 2010 and very recently the coveted Padma Shri from the government of India. She is currently the director of her alma mater, Odisha Dance Academy serving her beloved art form with her untiring energy & spirit.
GURU SRI PABITRA KUMAR PRADHAN
Bestowed with a captivating stage presence, Shri Pabitra Kumar Pradhan is one of the prominent male exponents of the form today. A disciple of Guru Gangadhar Pradhan, Guru Aruna Mohanty & Guru Bichitrananda Swain, he is a recipient of the prestigious, Sanjukta Pratibha Samman. Shri Pabitra Pradhan has widely performed in India and abroad in the USA, UK, China and many other countries.
Smt. Madhulita Mohapatra started her formal training in Odissi under him at a young age, in Bhawanipatna.