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Guru 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.

Guru 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.

His 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.

Towards 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.

In 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 cultural milieu.

In 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 Devi.

In 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 Kendra. 

Long 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".

Guruji 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.

Guru 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); etc. 

Some 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).

Anette Claesson from Sweden, and Anita (Anna) Bagotskaia from Russia students of Guruji are getting ICCR scholarship to learn Odissi Dance.

Since 1986, Guruji has been going to London every year to teach Odissi dance organized by Smt. Vishnupriya Pawar.

Guruji 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.

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