GURU RAMANI RANJAN JENA
Born on August 15, 1941 in Udambar village near Remuna in Baleswar district of Orissa, Guru Ramani Ranjan Jena had his initial training in dance and music at the age of 11 from a local teacher. After working with a touring theatre troupe as a child artiste for four years, he joined the Janata Ranga Manch at Cuttack as a dancer.
The Guru was later trained in Odissi under the guidance of Guru Raghunath Dutta, Guru Mayadhar Raut and Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra at Kala Vikash Kendra (KVK), Cuttack. He also obtained a bachelor’s degree in Kathak from the KVK. During his six years of stint with the Kendra as a faculty member, Guru Jena was guided by luminaries like Kali Charan Patnaik, Babulal Doshi, Hariprasad Chaurasia, Pankaj Charan Das, Deba Prasad Das, Balakrushna Dash, Dhirendra Nath Patnaik and Bhubaneswar Mishra to pursue the profession of a dancer.
In 1973, Guru Jena joined Rukmini Devi Arundale’s Kalakshetra as an Odissi dance teacher. During his four years of service, he trained several students from India and abroad besides conducting workshops in France, Italy and Greece. Returning to his home state, he started his dance school Kamala Kala Pitha at Cuttack in 1983 and taught at the Odissi Research Centre, Bhubaneswar later for three years.
In 1989, the Guru shifted his base to the national capital of New Delhi where he finally settled down. Commencing his career as an Odissi dance teacher at the Jagannath Mandir, he later joined the Triveni Kala Sangam where he still continues to train aspiring artistes. He was also invited twice as a visiting faculty member at late Protima Bedi’s Nrityagram dance village near Bangalore.
He has trained Odissi dancers in Japan, Brazil, France, Mexico, Russia, Sweden and Brazil besides a number of students in India including his son and daughter-in-law.
Guru Jena has choreographed a number of dance ballets – Prema Sudhanidhi (1962), Ritusamhara (1963), Rituraj (1964) and Kaluri benta (1965) – to name a few. He has been the dance director for five Oriya films – Kanakalata, Adina Megha, Sansara, Sesa Sravana and Chhamana Athaguntha.
A recipient of the Orissa Sangeet Natak Akademi award in 1987, Guru Jena received Fellowships from the Ministry of Human Resources for his research on Natraj in Odissi Style and Similarities and differences in Chhau and Odissi dance styles.
The jury of Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra Award in recognition of his services and eminence, has great pleasure in nominating Guru Ramani Ranjan Jena for the award in the category of “ Eminent Person” in Dance for the year 2008.