The Classical Dances in India are one of the oldest forms of art in the country. Once considered a form of worship in ancient temples, today they are popular worldwide. Out of the eight classical dances recognized by the Sangeet Natak Academy; Kathak, which originated from North India, is widely practiced and watched all across the world and has garnered huge praise for India and its culture. Here are five world famous Female Kathak Dancers in India you should know about.
Sunayana Hazarilal Agarwal is a Kathak dancer and is widely considered the only surviving practitioner of the Benaras Gharana (Janakiprasad) of Kathak. A Padma Shree recipient, amongst her many accolades; Hazarilal is the Director of Natawari Dance Academy and has been a visiting faculty member of some of the most prestigious dance institutions around the world, including the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
Shovna Narayan was trained by legendary Kathak maestro Pandit Birju Maharaj and Kundanlal Gangani and is known for her strong urge for experimentation. An author and a pioneer of the dance of temples, she has also worked with many western dancers and musicians. The Kathak maestro has also been awarded with Padmashri and currently runs her own dance academy in Delhi.
A Kathak Dancer and the founder of Kadamb School of Dance and Music, Lakhiya is considered a pioneer in contemporary Kathak dance. She has toured the west extensively and gave Kathak its deserved recognition abroad as well. A choreographer and a Kathak Guru, she has produced some bright young Kathak dancers including Vaishali Trivedi, Aditi Mangaldas, Daksha Sheth, Sanjukta Sinha, Sanjukta Wagh, Parul Shah and Prashant Shah.
Another Padma Shri recipient, Rani Karna has also learnt Odissi, Bharatanatyam and Manipuri, apart from Kathak. She was the founder and head of the dance department of the Calcutta School of Music the dance department at Ahana- the music and dance wing of Aurobindo Bhavan, Calcutta. She has performed at almost all major classical dance festivals in India and has researched and published important works on the Kathak Dance form.
Prerana Shrimala is one the most well-known and reputed Kathak dancers in India and most of her performances are based on poetry- ancient, medieval, and modern. She is best known for exploring verses of Kalidas, Amaru, Meera, Kabeer, Padmakar, and Ghalib, French poet Yves Bonnefoy, among others.
[Featured Picture Courtesy: Samanvay]