Tales from Jaipur
KATHAK IS THE DANCE OF STORYTELLERS AND JAIPUR GHARANA HAS MUCH TO NARRATE AS ONE TRACES THE GANGANI FAMILY
Jaipur has always been a state of rich culture and heritage. We often talk about its fort, historical palaces, the vibrancy of folk music and dance. But there is one thing we miss at the time and it's the classical dance form Kathak, which has strong roots in Jaipur.
' Katha kahe so kathak kahave' - Kathak is the dance of storytellers. Stories narrated through the medium of the body, face, hands, feet in sync with the tabla and lehra.
When we talk about classical music, we always talk about ' Gharanas' from where these art forms flourished.
Apart from Jaipur, Kathak has two other major Gharanas - Lucknow and Banaras. Under these Gharanas, the classical dance thrives and have moved from one generation to the other through the Guru- Shishiya parampara. Of all the major Gharanas, Jaipur is particularly known for its rapid powerful footwork, multiple spins and subtle facial expressions which are also known as ' abhinay'. Kathak was introduced to Guru Kundan Lal Gangani's father when he got married into the family of a well known Kathak dancer Pandit Sundar Prasad, who has been living in Delhi for five decades and doing stage performances together as a family. The Gangani family has its roots in Rajasthan's Churu District. With Pandit Rajendra Gangani at the helm of affairs, Ganganis are now the leading exponents of the Jaipur Gharana. The Ganganis shifted to Delhi's Karol Bagh in the 1960s, it was the time when classical dance began to gain popularity in schools and other institutes. Out of his seven sons, Guru Kundan Lal's eldest son, R a j e n d r a Gangani at the age 54, is presently the oldest member of the Gangani family. Sine, Three generations of the family perform all over the country and outside as well.
Next, in line, Harish Gangani, the younger son of Guru Kundan Lal Gangani, said: "it's been more than 50 years that our family tradition is going on, and now it is being carried out by me and my brother as disciples of our father." "Every Guru has his own style through which they contribute towards a different direction and shape the dance form," he added.
Bhawani Gangani who is a professional dancer like his uncles and grandfather started learning Kathak at the age of eight. While recalling his memories as kids, he said as soon as we use to wake up in the morning, we would rush to see our uncles and Guru Pandit R a j e n d r a Gangani's dance. We were charmed by their footwork and movement, that's how our interest grew."
Sanjeet Gangani, an emerging kathak dancer of the family's legacy said "initially I never had any interest in Kathak. Although, I had a little interest in tabla. But slowly and steadily I started gaining interest by watching my father and uncles performing."
Since the beginning, only the male members of the family were allowed to perform on stage. However, the Gangani family has provided well- known personalities like Prerna Shrimali and Urmila Nagar which are big names in the dance circles.
"Traditionally, women in the family were asked to look after the children and take care of the home while the men use to travel on camels to spread their teachings," said Harish Gangani.
"We now live in different times and I really want that the women in the family who have talent should not be denied a chance to take it to connoisseurs," said Yogesh Gangani, who is the professional tabla player.
Harish Gangani's 17- year- old daughter Nyanika is the first girl in the family to pursue dance and perform on stage last year at Oddbird Theatre in Delhi.
Of all the major gharanas, Jaipur is particularly known for its rapid powerful footwork, multiple spins and subtle facial expressions