Early Life of Mayadhar Raut
Mayadhar Raut was born on July 6, 1930 in the village Kantapenhara in Cuttack district. As a child, Raut was a gotipua, a boy designated to learn a style of temple dance previously performed by female temple dancers. At age eight he became a dancer with the Orissa Theatre. He went to Puri's Annapurna Theatre in 1945 and studied Radha-Krishna abhinaya (gesture language). At this time, he also began training in modern and creative dance. He eventually went to Jaipur to study the Kathak (dance) style of Jaipur Gharana (a community of performers who share a distinctive style) with Ramgopal Mishra. subsequently he received his dance training under the Guru-shishya tradition of Odissi by Rukmini Devi Arundale at Kalakshetra, Chennai He is married to Mamta Khuntia, and they have one daughter and two sons; daughter Madhumita Raut is also a noted Odissi dancer.
Career of Mayadhar Raut
Groomed in Odissi in the Guru-Shishya tradition since early childhood, Mayadhar Raut also had the advantage of learning under the direct tutelage of Rukmini Devi Arundale at Kalakshetra for many years. The Odissi repertoire as it exists today is indebted to Guru Mayadhar Raut more than to any other Guru. Guru Mayadhar Raut is a living legend in the field of Odissi Dance. A hard taskmaster, he unravels his thought process slowly over the years, giving one time to digest, understand and imbibe his philosophy. Behind every action (especially in his Sanchaari compositions) is a profound spiritual and philosophical reason; something that he has thought about and dwelled on for a long time before composing. Every time the pupils do an Abhinaya piece in front of him, he introduces a new layer, a subtle dimension. Every such little nuance adds another facet to the rich tapestry of movement and philosophy that he weaves.
Contribution of Mayadhar Raut As the founder member of Jayantika, an association formed in the 1950's, Guruji has played a major role in giving Odissi its classical status. Guru Mayadhar Raut is the first Odissi Guru to introduce Mudra Vinyoga in the study of Odissi in 1955 and Sancharibhava in the Odissi dance items. He is also the first to present on stage enchanting Geeta Govinda, portraying Shringara Rasa. His notable compositions include 'Pashyati Dishi Dishi'. 'Priya Charu Shile', composed in 1961. Earlier, only the Oriya songs or the Ashtapadi 'Lalit Lavanga Lata' and 'Dashavatar' were taught and performed.
A master of Natyashastra and Abhinaya Darpana, he has done yeoman's service to enrich the Abhinaya vocabulary of Odissi. As the founder Guru of Kala Vikas Kendra in Orissa, he trained Surendranath Jena, Hare Krishna Behera and Ramani Ranjan Jena, all established Gurus today. Guruji taught at Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra from 1970 till 1995.
Guru Mayadhar Raut has been honoured with - Padma Shri Award (2009), Sangeet Natak Academy Award, Sahitya Kala Parishad Award, Utkal Pratibha Puraskar, Odissi Sangeet Natak Academy Award, Rajeev Gandhi Samman and Kavi Samrat Upendra Bhanja Award.
He continues to remain "the high priest of Indian Classical Dances, one who has trained a galaxy of prominent performing artists". Guru, who silently seeks excellence and perfection in creative pursuits without a penchant for the limelight, is but the one who always illuminates the path of his disciples.
Personal Life of Mayadhar Raut
An exceptionally sensitive person he is very tuned in to the moods and thoughts of his students. He is of the firm opinion that a dancer should live and experience the full spectrum of life. A family man himself, he encourages and supports his students to take on parallel careers, get married etc. For all his deep thinking and philosophical outlook to life, Guruji is a very simple man. He does not want much in the material world and does not seek attention or the limelight. But he expects the world from his students as far as dance is concerned. An honest straightforward, soft-spoken, hardworking, sensitive person, Guruji is truly not of this world. He is not merely ahead of his times, but a complete dimension of time and space himself. At a time when dancers are highly competitive, politically suave and when very often good media and public relations decide the career graph of a dancer, Guruji continues on his own path, steering his students away from the commercial art world. He has created around him his own special universe which thrives on honesty, hard work, humility, discipline and unbound creativity. The very few who measure up to his standards in all respects get a glimpse of this extraordinary universe.