HYDERABAD : Art is the balm that can heal any wound’, says Kathak virtuoso Pandit Rajendra Gangani, who is set to perform in the Hyderabad Dance Festival on April 10. A doyen of the Jaipur Gharana, this Sangeet Natak Akademi Award winner stands out for his style and blending of manly grace and delicacy. He is not only going to perform in the city, but also conduct workshops for dance enthusiasts too. The best part? Even beginners can register to learn the moves from Panditji.
Sounding excited about the upcoming event, he says: “It is rare to see a festival being conducted in India to celebrate dance exclusively. Several dance forms are going to be part of this event, and Kathak is one of them. Hyderabad has a rich cultural heritage that continues from the days of the Nizam. Therefore, there cannot be a better city to celebrate the beauty of diverse forms of dance in India. We have received an enormous response to my workshop, and many have already registered.”
Inviting everyone who has the will to learn, Guruji, as he is fondly addressed by his students, says: “It is our job to teach you. If you want to dance, you should join us without any hesitation.” Commenting on the dance piece he is going to present at the festival, the veteran dancer says: “I will begin with Shiva Aradhana and then go on to present some Kathak techniques like Toda, Tukda and Ladi in Teen Taal. The next piece will depict playing Holi.” While chatting about his fusion creations and how he once blended Spanish dance form Flamenco with Kathak, Panditji remarks that the pandemic has been tough for artistes.
Sharing anecdotes on how one can survive dark times, he says: “We must remember that we are not alone in this. Everyone in this world has been affected by Covid-19 in some way. Artistes must continue to have faith in their sadhana. The pandemic is not going to last forever. The biggest lesson I learned in life is to be prepared to face the worst because the tables can turn any day.” Pandit Rajendra is one among a few Indians who have performed solo in Queen Elizabeth Hall, London; the Festival of India in USSR and other countries like USA, Italy, Germany, France, China, Japan and Afghanistan.
He has also been active in attempting a blend of various dance forms. When asked about his favourite dance form, Guruji says: “Choosing only one is like picking only one flower from a beautiful bouquet. However, I always had a fondness for Mohiniattam, which has its origins in Kerala.” He also shares that Kuchipudi from Andhra Pradesh holds a special place in his heart. So what are the qualities that make a good dancer? To this, Panditji replies: “Anyone who has a sense of rhythm in her/his body can dance. But finding the right guru is very important. Learning from the wrong guru is similar to getting your suit stitched by the wrong tailor. It will not fit you and making alterations is difficult. Lastly, the person must be ready to work hard.”
— Kakoli Mukherjee firstname.lastname@example.org @KakoliMukherje2