Guru Deba Prasad

Guru Deba Prasad was born in 1932 in Kantapada, near Cuttack.Deba Prasad was brought up by his grandfather who was attached to a Jatra party, playing violin  He started training in Chanda Choupadi and Ashtapadi from his grandfather.

He trained in odissi under Mohan Chandra Mohapatra. He was associated with the New Theatres. He got his first break to perform at the new Theatre when Pankaj Charan Das joined.

His exposure in his early years to the akhada system had well equipped Deba Prasad Das to teach, if not exactly perform, the knotty acrobatic bandha component of the gotipua art Another singular contribution of Deba Prasad Das to Odissi was the induction, into compositions, of interlocked passages of narrative snippets and percussion syllables from the sabda swara patha, a ritual dance tradition observed in only one temple, in the village of Kumhari in Sambalpur district. He had also imbibed characteristics of Mayurbhanj Chhau which once in a while he allowed subtly to colour his rendition. But what had fascinated him more was the vast hoard of folk and tribal dance in Orissa, of which he made a diligent study to the extent of tracing or identifying in these forms elements from which Odissi in part may well have derived its inspiration.

Though small of frame, Deba Prasad Das towered as a dancer. His body was well-proportioned, and his torso and arms had a quiet fluidity, so pertinent to Odissi. His graceful, eloquent lines and silent but pulsating configurations of the body neatly brought to life the carvings of dancers and musicians studding temple walls. His countenance, eternally pleasant and redolent of boyish innocence, combined with his cuddlesome presence, made him physically ideal for the pervasive role of Krishna in Odissi.

Later, when Odissi came to be institutionalised, which means it was taught systematically at an established training centre. This was in 1954, when dance was added as a subject at the National Music Association that had been founded in Cuttack in 1949. Two guru-s were appointed for Odissi: Mahadev Raut, a distinguished exponent of the gotipua style, and Deba Prasad Das. NMA also became the first to experiment with and produce. of which the lead male role inevitably fell to Deba Prasad Das. He was with NMA during the years 1954-57, as instructor, choreographer and dancer.

With his partnership with Indrani Rehman,Deba prasad Das took Odissi out of its limited setting into a notational arena. He received the SNA award in 1977. His untimely demise on July 16,1986 has left a void in the field of Odissi.

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