Tales from Jaipur

KATHAK IS THE DANCE OF STO­RY­TELLERS AND JAIPUR GHA­RANA HAS MUCH TO NARRATE AS ONE TRACES THE GAN­GANI FAM­ILY

The Asian Age - - Culture Curry - RAD­HIKA VASHISHT

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

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