Padmashri Guru Pankaj Charan Das

The Guru of Gurus, Padmashri Guru Pankaj Charan Das

It is with great sadness that I announce the departure of Padmashri Guru Pankaj Charan Das from this existence, this world. He will be remembered by all of us, his disciples, as the great genius he was. He made breakthroughs in the field of Orissi dance years before most other people even thought of new directions. He created "Matru Vandana," breaking all traditional themes in choreography. His genius saw the "Feminine" from "Gativilas Pallavi" to the famous "Panchakanyas." Yet his traditional choreographies, such as "Radharani songe nache Murali Pani" or the piece-de-resistance, "Glani Samhar," strike one with the brilliance of devotion on the one hand and striking stagecraft on the other. He reveled in the Oriya language that gave him the richness of imagery that marked each of the "Panchakanya" pieces, "Glani Samhar," "Mahari Suchi Srngar" and of course the traditional songs to Lord Krishna.

Gurujiís choreographic philosophy looked forward to the 21st century as he emphasized teaching the "essence" of the dance and the grammar to provide tools for individual expression. It was the greatest gift he gave me personally. It is almost as incomprehensible to the critics of yesterday as the concept of "creative non-fiction" is to the publishers of yesterday. The style that Guruji emphasized was born out of the soil of Puri, out of the waters that wash the Puri beaches, out of life in and around Puri. His style was always demanding but effortless and full of heart in its devotion, beauty, and rootedness--so much so that it has mostly gone unrecognized.

I am still feeling the loss of a brilliance that was never easy to cope with but that always left one dazed for days looking for answers and thereby learning beyond the here and now. I will always be thankful that he was my guru, and in my heart he is and forever will be my GURU. (Ratna)