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Pandit Rajendra Gangani, Kathak

he disciple of Pt. Kundanlal Gangani, Rajendra Gangani started training in the art of Kathak dance at the early age of four. The renowned Jaipur ‘Gharana’ saw the emergence of an outstanding performer and crusader of the art in the talented scion of a family of hereditary dancers serving the art of Kathak for centuries together.

Pt. Rajendra has easily absorbed the most complicated and difficult ‘Bols’ of Kathak, today, mesmerising audiences under the spell of his art for hours together. He has enriched himself with the essence of this style of dance together with integrating the purity of tradition with the creativeness of a contemporary approach.

Pt. Rajendra graduated from the Kathak Kendra, Delhi in the year 1983-84, and ever since has made significant contributions to this field. Although he sticks to the pure tradition of hs gharan, he is an indefatigable experimenter, having choreographed several group compositions and dance dramas to standing ovations and rave reviews.

Pt. Rajendra stands out for his style; making use of his excellent blend of manly grace and delicacy, he depicts the devotional aspects that characterises the Jaipur gharana. His dance forms depict the love of Radha Krishna, different Lilaas of Lord Vishnu. A large number of thematic items like Leele-Varnan, Raag Vistaar, Tribandhi, Sargam, Zhalak, Srijan, Kavitakriti, Maharaas, Parikrama has been produced by him.

An accomplished musician, composer of tunes, he also has a rare mastery over the tabla, harmonium, pakhawaj, etc. With a confident grasp of the kinetics and aesthetics of dance, and his ability to select apt songs, his choreographic creations always bring an air of refreshing novelty.

Guruji, as he is fondly called by all his students and associates has created items that are beautiful blends of artistic excellence, meaningful poetry, soulful music and expressive dancing…a careful amalgam of all the four elements of Abhinaya.

Among the numerous awards and accolades he has won, are the ‘Sangeet Raj’, ‘Shastriya Natya Shiromani’, and the prestigious ‘Sangeet Natya Akademy Award’ which was bestowed upon him in 2003 by The President of India, Hon’ble Shri A P J Abdul Kalam.

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Priyadarsini Govind, Bharatanatyam

“Dance is such a complete line with visuals, poetry, drama, music…you use your whole body to communicate all of this” says Priyadarsini Govind.

A graduate in commerce from the University of Madras, Chennai, Priyadarsini holds a diploma in Mass Communication, but Bharatanatyam has been her first love ever since she was six. After initial grooming under Smt. Usha, Priyadarsini specialized in abhinaya under ‘Padma Bhushan’ Smt. Kalanidhi Narayanan from the age of nine. Priyadarsini received advanced training in Bharatanatyam under Guru Swamimalai K. Rajaratnam, exponent of the Vazhvoor School from the age of ten. Priyadarsini imbibes the best of both her teachers. Priyadarsini has been giving recitals from the age of sixteen, and has performed in numerous sabhas and academies in India and abroad.

Tall and slim, this Chennai based dancer is a delight to watch, the strong lines of her dance brought alive by a quality of abhinaya, nothing short of being in a class of its own. Selected to dance at the prestigious Festival of India in Paris, in 1985 at the age of 20, Priyadarsini had several occasions after that to showcase her talent – the Swarna Samaroh, celebrating 50 years of Indian Independence organized by the Sangeet Natak Academy, the Khajuraho Dance Festival, performances at the Narada Gana Sabha, receiving in turn the Vasantha Lakshmi Narsimhachari award from them, besides receiving the Yuva Kala Bharathi from the Bharat Kalachar, Chennai, in the year 2000.

Priyadarsini also holds the title of ‘Kalaimamani’ awarded by the Government of Tamil Nadu in 1998, an award given for artistic excellence. Priyadarsini has performed extensively in Europe, besides in countries like the US, Tunisia, South Africa and even Afghanistan, under the ICCR banner and on invitation by the French Government at the Parc de Villette Festival in Paris.

Priyadarsini also underwent training in Kalaripayattu, the martial art form of Kerala and Nattuvangam from Kalashetra, besides learning to sing and to perform on television. Intense and naturally talented, her special interest however, still remains abhinaya – “I think it’s beautiful and I was trained in a particular style that gives a lot of emphasis on it”.

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