Shri Hare Krishna Behera, a well-known Odissi exponent
and its Guru, can justifiably lay claim to many honours.
But foremost among these would be in being the pioneer
of bringing Odissi out of the geographical confines of
Orissa and unleashing its creative muse to a wider
audience than hitherto enjoyed.
Shri Hare Krishna Behera was born in the village of
Buanl in the district of Balasore, Orissa. From a very
early age he was attracted to the finer nuances of the
Odissi dance form, and to
nurture that attraction, he
successively initiated himself as a disciple to Shri
Ramhari Behera, Shri Shriram Chandra Dey and Shri
Ramchandra Mahapatra. He learned the
Gotipua and Mahari style of Odissi from these gurus
apart from learning Champu, Chhanda Tabla, and
contemporary dances like Bhajan and Chhota Khayal.
attraction towards the dance form was evident in his
adolescence when, at the age of six, he joined the 'akhada'
parties in his village. Akhada party was a traditional
narrative that used elaborate drama and song sequence to
tell stories. Such was his forte in this form that he
was invited to teach and direct akhada parties in
neighbouring villages. Yet his quest for continued
growth in education and art remained unfulfilled.
fulfilling these ambitions in part, he came to Balasore
in 1952, where he joined the Nritya Sangeet Kala Mandir
as a dance teacher. In 1957, he joined the Kala Vikas
Kendra to pursue his education. Here under the watchful
tutelage of Guru Keli Charan Mahapatra, his mastery of
the dance form flowered. During the same time, he joined
"Jayantika", which was a conflation of gurus,
scholars and students of the art form under one roof
committed to evolve Odissi with a classical character.
1960, Shri Babulal Joshi, the then secretary of the Kala
Vikas Kendra, saw the potential that was lying untapped
inside Guru Behera and sponsored his entrance to the
Natya Ballet Centre at Delhi to learn ballet. Guru Shri
Behera combined this opportunity to teach Odissi to
aspiring students of the Natya Ballet Centre and thus
started the pioneering work of propagating Odissi
outside Orissa into the wider canvas of the country's
1964 he received a scholarship from the Sangeet Natak
Academy (Orissa) and also from cultural Deptt., Govt. of
India to learn kathak from pandit Shri Birju Maharaj.
Simultaneously he learnt Pakhawaj from Late Shri
Purushottam Das and Thumri from Late Smt Siddheswari
the same year, Guru Shri Behera started the 'Nritya
Niketan'. It was, perhaps, the first of its kind in
Delhi. However, Guru Shri Behera could not devote much
time to it for multiple reasons. This did not deter him
from continuing with his task of propagating Odissi and
he called on his disciples, friends and even his guru
Shri Kelu Charan Mohapatra to assist him in this
endeavour. In 1971, he joined the Gandharva
Mahavidyalaya as an "Odissi Guru". In 1974, he
again served as an Odissi Guru at Sri Ram Bharatiya Kala
years of teaching Odissi at various establishments had
made Guru Shri Behera eager to start an institution that
would be devoted to teaching Odissi. With this noble
thought in mind, Guru Shri Behera started his own
institution in 1976, which five years later, got
formally registered as "Odissi Kendra" under
the "Registration of Societies Act".
has traveled widely to places, like the former USSR,
USA, UK, South America, Mongolia, Poland, Austria,
Holland, Germany, Denmark, Thailand, Sweden,
Switzerland, Nepal, Japan, Maldives, Italy and France.
Behera has trained many celebrity dancers some of whom
are internationally recognized exponents of Odissi. To
name a few, Sonal Mansingh, Yamini Krishnamurthy, Aloka
Pannikar, Surendra Nath Jena, Radha Reddy, Madhavi
Mudgal and Kavita Dwibedi. Guruji has also trained a
number of foreigners - Frederic Blance (America), Anne
Marrie Gosten (Canada), Takomi Somappa (Japan) Lindy
Tauber (Australia), Ayako Fumkawa (Japan), Reiko Mori
(Japan), Karen Grey (Australia), Chantal Thomas (Paris),
Chime Yanagida (Japan) Laura J Lukitsch (America);
of the disciples have attained wide reputation and
include Kanta Khosla, Shakuntla Nayar, Chandra
Jayanagarkar, Rani Kama Nayak, Vishnupriya Pawar. Kumkum
Lal, Nalani Malhotra. Nilima Banarjee, Kamal Preset,
Beena Jhalla, Shikha Bose, Yojana Koshal, Abha Nalini
Kumar, Shenaz Mehta. Madhulekha Nayak, Smruti Mehta, R.
Parvati, Laxmi Prasad, Sudha Grover, Vandana Paliwal,
Sarbani Sen, Sushmita Banerjee, Sagoree Chakravarty,
Sreyashi Dey, Anita Prasad, Sunita Shankar, Anuradha
Paul, Somali Bose, Sanjari Gupta, Yamini Gupta, Pratap
Behera, Parul Rewal, Chandrima Sarkar, Purnima Barik,
Urmila Sahoo, Nilanjana Mukherjee, Priyanka Ganguly,
Ayone Dutta, Deepshikha Dutta, Kaveri Behera, Arti
Kapoor, Madhurima Goswami, Indu Oberoi, Chitra
Jagadishan, N. Yamini, Ipsita Das, Sapna Chaman, Radhika
Rajpal, Shilpa Shankar, Uma Panigrahi. Anette Claesson
(Sweden), Anita (Anna) Bagotskaia (Russia), Suman
Chowdary, Palesh Saha, Baisakhi Mazumdar (Bangladesh).
Claesson from Sweden, and Anita (Anna) Bagotskaia from
Russia students of Guruji are getting ICCR scholarship
to learn Odissi Dance.
1986, Guruji has been going to London every year to
teach Odissi dance organized by Smt. Vishnupriya Pawar.
has composed many new items in Pallavi, Abhinaya, Tandav,
Mangalacharan etc. He has also choreographed several
dance dramas combining classical Odissi with folk forms.
Even today he experiments with new compositions.