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Nartanam - Vol X No. 1

A Quarterly Journal of Indian Dance - Volume X - Number 1 - January to March 2010 (Guru Pankaj Charan Das)

March 17th, 1919 -- this date is singularly significant in the history of Odissi dance, for, on this date was born, in the humble home of Dharma Charan Das and Kshetramoni Debi, a little child, who was destined to bring about a revolution in the way dance was regarded by both the aristocracy as well as those of less elite by birth. The father belonged to a traditional family of “madeli”s, or those who played upon the “mardala”, in accompaniment to the dance of the Maharis. This child, who was to grow into the legendary Guru Pankaj Charan Das, and who played, when the time came, a crucial role in the revival and reconstruction of the dance tradition of the Maharis, was unfortunate enough not to have seen his father, who had departed this world even before the birth of his son. His widowed mother had no choice left to her but to go and live with her relatives, among whom there was Ratnaprabha Mahari, an aunt of young Pankaj Charan and the most acclaimed dancer of her time.

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