‘Dance for the Lord’ is Odissi’s tradition. Sanjukta Panigrahi, the legendary Odissi dancer maintained this custom all through her life. The dedicated dancer played a pivotal role in reviving the Odissi dance form in India and popularizing it in abroad. She was given the title Padmashri by the Government of India in recognition of her priceless contribution to Indian dance. She was also awarded the Sangeet Kala Academy Award.
Sanjukta Panigrahi was born on 24.08.44 in Behrampur, Orissa. She was a God gifted dancer. She started very young, at the age of four, under Guru Kelucharan Mahapatra.. Sanjukta Panigrahi performed at the annual festival of the Children’s Little Theatre in Calcutta, when she was only nine. The little girl became cynosure of the event. “The entire show was stolen by a child prodigy from Orissa” one appreciating coverage in a newspaper the very next morning was published.
Discovering her talent, her mother sent her to Rukmini Devi Arundale in Kalakshetra, Chennai. Sanjukta came out of Kalashetra with in Nrityapraveen diploma Bharatnatyam with Kathakali as the second subject after six years. It was here that she met Raghunath Panigrahi, a vocalist. She married him when she was only sixteen. After a long struggling phase they decided to perform jointly. The Sanjukta-Raghunath duo enchanted the audience for a long time.
Sanjukta Panigrahi had choreographed many innovative pieces along with performing the traditional ones. She was a leader in Odissi dance and created many brilliant students to carry on with her legacy.
Sanjukta Panigrahi died of cancer at an age of 55, when there was lot more for her to contribute in the field of dance.