Updated: Oct 25, 2020
Mithilesh Patnaik, the only child of Shri. Subhranshu Patnaik and Smt. Minati Patnaik, was born mentally challenged with 60% retardation. Mithilesh first came to camp Anjali in the year 2001 where after observing his interest in Odissi dance and his deft expression and postures, he was awarded Anjali scholarship for two consecutive years to continue his dance training. Thereafter, he was regularly promoted by Swabhiman in various cultural and dance forums.
He has been trained under Late Guru Sahadeb Padhi and Guru Arati Kar. This is his 20th year as an Odissi dancer. This musical prodigy has passed Sangeet Visharad Pratham Khanda and is the winner of many awards such as the CCRT winner Srujani Award, Anjali Award, Rajeev Sanman, and SCART Award. He has more than 100 performances to his credit. Swabhiman provided him with scholarship, exposed his potential by presenting him as an Odissi artist in over 25 local and state-level programs.
The peak of our achievement towards aiding him came when Dr Sruti Mohapatra was able to convince the Chairman of a top school in Odisha, Sai International School, to interview teachers with disabilities. In a historic first in India, a person with Down’s Syndrome has been working as an Odissi dance teacher in a mainstream school since 24th June 2012, breaking great stereotypical barriers.