This was an interview I did with Kumkum Mohanty during the International Odissi Festival in Bhubaneswar last December. To read the transcripts alongside the video, go to https://pad.ma/BJG/player/ . The interview was transcribed by Divya Sarma.
Kumkum Mohanty ran away from home as a toddler to follow a brass band in a wedding procession. Though she was found soon after, in the care of a vigilantpaan shop owner, she fondly cherishes her memory of that incident as a sign of her inextricable links with dance and music. Along with Sanjukta Panigrahi and Priyambada Hejmadi Mohanty, she was one of the earliest students of Kelucharan Mohapatra in the fifties, when he worked with others to establish Odissi as a classical dance form. Besides making her name as a dancer, Mohanty pursued a career in the civil services, ending her career in a post and place close to her heart, as the chief executive of the Odissi Research Centre in Bhubaneswar, set up in the mid 1980s.
Here, she talks about her early years in Odissi and speaks out against bureaucratic apathy towards cultural institutions in Orissa and what she perceives as flippant trends in choreography and compositions.