By Srikanta Mohanty: The rich folk culture in Odisha has forever produced timeless forms of dances. Those lend grace to the occasions, when fervor of festivals grips the entire state. The state shares a unique cultural mosaic as every region almost has a dance form that speaks volumes about the heritage of the place. Jodi Sankha dance of Narendrapur is an inimitable form of artistic expression that combines sounds from conches with vigorous but animated movements of the dancers. The blowing of the conch shells exhibits an extreme display of lung power that shares a fierce ride with the rhythmic progress of the bodies.
“Originally a folk dance form in the district of Ganjam, the troupes wear colored outfits while they blow two fused conches. Playing it to the accompaniment of other musical instruments like traditional drums “Changu” and “Mahuri”, the troupes literally cast a spell on the audience on the occasions. Those have invariably lent grace to religious processions and social occasions”- Says Jayanta Nayak- a resident of Berhampur, who thinks this dance form deserves more recognition from the state and central government.
Although modulation of sound of musical instruments with conches is undoubtedly tough, still synchronizing the produced music with movement of bodies requires balance, hard practice, and patience. Many members of the tropes have a wealth of experience as they have performed nationally and internationally.
Besides the festivals, the troupes are in great demand as “sankha” or “conch” is the election symbol of the ruling B.J.D party, the hectic days of campaigning in different areas bring the excessively active participation of this dance troupes. As around one hundred troupes exist in Narendrapur, Purushottampur, and Badakusasthali areas of Ganjam, literally the need for the performance comes on the eve of every occasion. The smaller troupes consist of at least twelve members as the number in the bigger troupes go up to fifty members.
“The dance form has in its fold divinity as sound produced from the blowing of the conch is part and parcel of every religious activity. The movements in the dance forms are mainly various poses in martial art that artistically conveys the essence of our culture. Tides of thunderous applause simply reverberate the place, where this rich dance form gets staged by the folk artistes”- says Narendra Kar, who has seen enactments of this divine dance act at several functions.