International Dance Day | Taking Kathak to new heights - Hindustan Times
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International Dance Day | Taking Kathak to new heights

Apr 29, 2024 04:31 PM IST

On International Dance Day today, we speak to three kathak experts Ruchi Khare, Kantika Mishra and Kantika Mishra on what the day means to them

The city of nawabs is the seat of the Lucknowi Gharana of Kathak and with legends like Pandit Birju Maharaj, Pandit Shambhu Maharaj, Pandit Lachhu Maharaj, Pandit Acchan Maharaj and Pandit Arjun Mishra the bar has been set very high. Today’s generation is gracefully carrying forward the tradition themselves and spreading the knowledge imbibed from their gurus to their students across the world.

Ruchi Khare
Ruchi Khare

On International Dance Day today, we speak to three experts on what the day means to them and how they are taking forward the tradition by performing, evolving and passing knowledge to the students.

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A day to enhance the beauty of dance: Ruchi Khare

Ruchi Khare, a student of Dr Purnima Pande, has been learning and performing for 35 years with over 200 performances in India and abroad.

“I have always been inspired by people who have an innovative thinking when it comes to dance. So, International Dance Day for me makes me ponder upon thoughts that enhance the beauty of dance. We can always add something because as an artform dance keeps evolving every day. It’s time for me to think about what has been done and what can be done in the future. How can dance bring bliss and beauty in the life of dancers as well as the common people and work therapeutically,” says Khare.

She is currently an assistant professor at Bhatkhande Sanskriti Vishwavidyalaya. “It feels great when your students call to wish you, share their work and their innovation. Our students will be doing Bharatanatyam and Kathak at our university today,” she adds.

Kantika Mishra
Kantika Mishra

Abhi bahut kuch seekhna hai: Kantika Mishra

Lovingly called Guru Maa by her students, Lucknow Gharana’s Kathak exponent Kantika Mishra feels that still, it’s a lot for her to learnt. With over a thousand national and international shows to her credit, the mother of four-year-old daughter, Mishra feels it’s their duty to do their best for the Lucknow Gharana.

“There is a sea out there and how much as an artiste we can pick on our way is left to be seen. My father once said, ‘Ab Kathak samaj mein aata hai...’ Imagine a person of his stature saying so, then where do we stand. Abhi bahut kuch seekhna hai, but I am glad that my now guru, that is my brother Pandit Anuj Mishra, is leaving no stone unturned in taking the ever-evolving Kathak to new heights,” says the Bhav Paksh artiste who enjoys performing on Pancham Savari.

Mishra, who studied at Prayag Sangeet Samiti till the sixth year, says, “As a child, I was never inclined towards Kathak though the art was in every nook and corner of my house. I have been training since I was a five-year-old under Pandit Arjun Mishra, my father and first guru. He understood my reluctance, that’s why he placed me in the last rows during the class, jahan se main bhaag jaati thi khelne ke liye.”

She has been learning since last 25 years.

“There was a program once, where the girl who was earlier a part of the group went on a summer break so it was suggested by my dad that I was prepped for the show. I had to perform aur maine dance bilkul bemann se kiya tha. By then I was a state-level gold medalist but didn’t have that emotional connect with the dance form.”

The dancer adds, “The twist came when I saw my photos in the newspaper as well as my videos. Seeing myself with the very best on the stage was a turning point for me. My biggest learning was being with my father in his last years. I was with him 24x7 and this went on till 2015. By then, I had realised Kathak was my calling.”

Deepmala Sachan
Deepmala Sachan

Time to create something new: Deepmala Sachan

A disciple of Dr Kumkum Dhar, Deepmala Sachan has done Master’s from Bhatkhande that too under her guru. She spreads her knowledge in Singapore as well where she is associated with Sarva Fine Arts music institute and teaching around 120 students.

“Dance is my life and we all perform every day. Everyone is doing that in different parts of the world but on this day, dancer across the world perform and unite. So, you enhance yourself that I should do something new beyond the course and curriculum so that a new creation can happen,” says the Lucknowite.

While teaching is her profession, her heart lies in performing on stage. “I do daily personal riyaz as I pursue my career as a performer and for that, I need to practise. I am an artiste first, so performances are something I am looking forward to too and that’s my priority. Here, as a teacher, I am getting good exposure, but performance-wise, the scope is lesser. I regret not being in my hometown, where opport-unities are aplenty. Last time I was in Lucknow for Diwali and I performed at the Deep Utsav in Ayodhya as well.”

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