Magic of Khajuraho and classical Indian dances: Part 1
Photos: Vijay Rohatgi
March 5, 2018
Festival of Festivals, Khajuraho Dance Festival in its 44th year has won critical acclaim and popularity with presenting in the early years legendary dancers Birju Maharaj, Yamini Krishnamurty, Raja and Radha Reddy, Sanjukta Panigrahi, Vyjayantimala, Sitara Devi, Jhaveri Sisters, Kanak Rele, Swapnasundari, Chandralekha, Sonal Mansingh, Kelucharan Mohapatra and several others who built up the festival as unique one. It has been a dream for every dancer to perform here once in their lifetime.
This year, the opening evening saw awardees Raja-Radha Reddy (Kuchipudi 2013), Lakshmi Vishwanathan (Bharatanatyam 2014), Darshana Jhaveri (Manipuri 2015) and Jitendra Maharaj (Kathak 2016) receiving the Kalidas Samman from Anandiben Patel, Governor of Madhya Pradesh. These veteran artists have dedicated their lives to dance and have performed in different parts of India and world creating an awareness of the rich dance heritage India boasts of.
Khajuraho Dance Festival conceived by Ashok Vajpeyi and his colleagues has now extended to ArtMart, where not only national but also international painters participate. Conducted well by Shri Chinmayi, there is Kala Varta at 11 am in the morning where scholars, painters, theatre directors, dancers, dance critics share their journeys in chosen art fields. Rahul Rastogi's vision to embrace performing and plastic arts has received unprecedented success and response. Tourists enjoy the exhibition of crafts, handloom, handicrafts, and various arts of different States in a big mela like atmosphere. The varieties are mind boggling.
1st Day, Feb 20:
The opening Kuchipudi group dance choreographed by Raja and Radha Reddy with their daughters Bhavana and Yamini and other young dancers was magnificent with the magical backdrop of Chitragupta temple. Their uniform dance technique was flawless. Defying his age, Raja danced Shiva's tandava with praiseworthy vigour. Radha was a foil in lasya with delicate movements. The Sanskrit text describing beauty of Lord Shiva and Parvati and their creating the world with rivers, animals, birds replete with dance imageries, filled the stage. Bhavana and Yamini in nritta lifted their legs quite high with natural grace and moved with agility. As the universe with deer, elephant, birds, peacocks all danced joyously, from upper stage Shiva and Parvati watched it with deep interest. The entire group mesmerized the audience; such was the elation of awardees to put their best foot forward. For someone like me who has been fortunate to attend the festival most years (with a few breaks in between), it has been once again the magic that one surrenders to watching the panorama of our dance heritage. To meet dancers, whose excellent performances one has watched here in this temple town, one fills blessed.
From Dubai, Arushi Nishank and her two disciples presented Kathak beginning with Amir Khusro's kalam Allah Allah, at once bridging the gap of communities, be they the Hindus or the Muslims, the prayers to god, be he Shiva or Allah, the magic continued to exquisite poetry. The inclusion of tode, tatkar, ladi, parans, gats, tarana, endless chakkars, winning rounds of applause, embellished their dancing. The rare poetic beauty of Amir Khusro found felicitous expression in their Kathak dancing. Having been trained by Purnima Pande and Birju Maharaj, their ‘ang' was graceful and with good music accompaniment wonderful mood was established. Radha Krishna chhed chhad, teasing, breaking pots of Gopis and yet being loved by him were well depicted. Earlier proshitabhartrika nayika, with beloved away, the weather of Sawan was of no relief to nayika, with beautiful lyrics, was highly enjoyable.
Lakshimi Vishwanathan chose three numbers of Bharatanatyam, preceded by a shloka in praise of the king who built the temple in which resides Kedareshwara, Shiva stuti of Swati Tirunal in Hindi, Jayadeva's ashtapadi Sanchara dadara sudha madhuradhwani in Sanskrit, to excellent music set by late Seetarama Sharma and Tulasidas's prayer of Rama also in Hindi, had instant appeal to the large audience. She wisely explained each item in English for non Hindi speaking audience. Lakshmi says her journey in dance is a pilgrimage, and succeeds in evoking devotional mood. Her expressions move from one to another with ease. Her graceful movements and seasoned abhinaya invested all three numbers with beauty. In Shambho Shiva Shambho, Lord Shiva was shown in his majestic form. As Radha, Lakshmi in ashtapadi displayed her envy at Krishna dallying with other gopis. And in Rama stuti, the episodes of how Rama's feet created Ganga, how Bharata took padukas of Rama for placing on throne, and how Kaivat washed the feet before Rama stepped in his boat and he ferried Rama, Sita and Lakshmana across river - each was performed with intense devotional feeling. The audience gave all the three artists wonderful response.
2nd Day, Feb 21:
The morning's Kala Varta was allotted to awardees Guru Jitendra Maharaj and Darshana Jhaveri. I was asked to moderate and talk with both awardees about their dance journey and the salient features of their dance forms Kathak and Manipuri. Jitendra Maharaj warmed up after initial information of how he was inspired by his mother's singing in childhood and listening to it, he had natural response to dance. After initial training in Kathak under Krishna Maharaj, his style of Benaras gharana helped him explore the world of mnemonic syllables and abhinaya. He recited amazing bols in various talas. His disciples Nalini and Kamalini demonstrated the kavit with hastas and movements showing Radha and Krishna and their beauty. Guruji's fantastic memory bank of bols was amazing.
Darshana Jhaveri, disciple of Guru Bipin Singh, was overwhelmed at the award given to her in steps of her guru, whose centenary is being celebrated round the year. For her this also is a part of that celebration. She and her three sisters known as Jhaveri Sisters have performed Manipuri within India and abroad for more than 50 years. It was in All India Dance Seminar held in Delhi by Sangeet Natak Akademi at Vigyan Bhavan in April 1958, that Guru Bipin Singh had with demonstration of classical elements of Manipuri proved that it was a classical dance form and not a folk dance. He had studied the Natyasastra texts and also Vaishnava shastras and co-related the movements with shastra and prayoga. He had extensive knowledge of the Manipuri talas, rhythm, songs, Rasalilas, pung cholom, kartala cholom, Nata Sankirtan etc. From traditional night long dance-dramas, Rasalilas, he edited them for presentation of two hours for city audiences without diluting its shastric elements.
The difference between tandava and lasya was demonstrated by disciples Latasana and Poorvita Mukherjee, and also various talas. Darshana enacted abhinaya to Vidyapati's song in which Kamadeva mistakes Radha as Lord Shiva seeing her ornaments. Her long tresses were not Ganga, the chandan on her neck was not poison, the garlands of pearls were not serpents and so on. The angikabhinaya in Manipuri expresses all sentiments beautifully. Guru Bipin Singh's choreographed solo numbers are excellent gifts to Manipuri lineage.
When I asked Darshana, Latasana and Poorvita to demonstrate Latabandha and Bhedyak Pindibandhas of Natyasastra as seen in Rasalila, Jitendra Maharaj excitedly asked Nalini to join Darshana and others and to the mukhbol of Kavit they spontaneously danced stressing the common elements between the two dance forms and brought down the house.
The evening featured group Bharatanatyam presentation by Chennai based Padmini Durairajan, disciple of Chokkalingam Pillai and Subbaraya Pillai in Pandanallur bani. Maya Shyam Sundar and Hema Tharuna Vijaykumar, have received training in Kalanjali Institute. Their Pushpanjali followed by Shiva Panchakshara stuti Om Namah Shivaya was imaginatively choreographed, extolling the beauty of the lord and suggested that whoever worshipped and recited the prayer would achieve worldly benefits. The tableau, various poses of Lord Shiva in his solo dance, and of Shiva and Parvati together, were eye catching. The prayer with Nagendraharaya, one bedecked with garlands of serpents, trilochanaya, one with three- eyes, Lord Shiva's iconography was well etched. Sure footedness and clarity of movements were hallmark of the presentation.
Set in Basant raga, Gopalakrishna Bharati's Natanam adinar, dance of Shiva offered them scope for displaying imagination in revealing forms of Shiva with multi-arms, each arm holding various elements of fire, a deer, a damaru and so on. As the dance progressed the dancers began to come out from the group and the next dancers continued the image. Dancing of lord shook all eight directions, even Shesh naga who holds Prithvi lost balance. It is one of the most popular dance numbers and was well executed as a group dance. The story of Andal, who dreams of marrying Lord Vishnu, describes her dream to her friend, how the wedding took place. Indra himself came forward to ask for her hand for Lord Vishnu, the decoration of the city with flowers, the sound of conch, the drums, the merriment, the sacred fire round which the seven steps were taken and so on, performed by Hema Tharuna was an essay in narrating the story in an engaging manner.
Describing the beauty of goddess Parvati based on Saundaryalahari evoked the beauty of the goddess with poetic images and excellent music. Padmini did full justice to the enactment with dignity. The Marathi pada, Rusli Radha rusla Kanha rusla saara Vrindavan had instant appeal. Radha sulked as Krishna was seen playing with other gopis, and threw away her ornaments. Seeing her sulking, Krishna tried to please her, but Radha did not forgive him. So Krishna also started sulking. Seeing these two divine beings sulking and not talking with each other, the birds, the creepers, the animals and entire Vrindavan was unhappy. Finally Krishna and Radha reconciled and all danced in great joy. The tillana based on Swati Tirunal's composition Dhun suna ke nach rahi gori, saw the dancers in a joyous mood creating various patterns and group formations. The entire presentation was visually impressive. The musicians gave them excellent support.
Kathak by three young dancers from Birju Maharaj's Kalashram, Nandini Sharma, Gauri Sharma and Kanchan Kandpaal presented Trikon (triangle), Tihai, a novel concept coming to the sam and dancing with energy, executing excellent footwork, reveling in tala, taking sophisticated pirouettes, investing their dance with the beauty of Lucknow gharana. In between they rendered padhant on mike and built up enticing mood. They displayed the technique of Kathak and showed how an abstract idea can be given concrete form. The end with Tarana rendition was impressive. They worked as a team and impressed the cognoscenti among the audience with their excellent taiyyari and dancing.
Manipuri by Darshana Jhaveri and group
Manipuri exponent Darshana Jhaveri began with a prayer in praise of Lord Krishna, who played with Gopis on river Yamuna, subjugated serpent Kaliya and lifted mount Govardhan on his little finger. Such were the divine attributes of Lord Krishna. The graceful style of Manipuri sat well on Darshana's body, having mastered the technique for more than 50 years. No wonder she transcends the technique and makes the presentation lyrical as per the temperament of Manipuri dance. Dressed in gorgeous mirrored skirt and gossamer veil, Latasana as Radha and Poorvita Mukherjee as Krishna danced enhancing the difference between lasya and tandava. The talas suitable to both lasya and tandava were executed competently. Guru Bipin Singh's choreography is unique and dancers did justice to it.
Darshana's solo Madana akshapa, admonishing Madana for mistaking Radha and her ornaments for Lord Shiva, a composition of poet Vidyapati has been one of the finest choreographic works of Guru Bipin Singh. Radha tells Madana, “Do not mistake me for Shiva, I am a mere woman. My hair decorated with garland is not jata of Shiva from which Ganga flows, it is a garland only. The mark on my neck is not of poison but of musk, the garland of pearls in my neck is not garland of snakes,” and so on, begging Kamadev not to mistake her ornaments as those of Shiva and take revenge upon her, just because he was turned into ashes by Lord Shiva. Darshana, when describing Radha's state danced in lasya and when describing Shiva's ornaments performed in tandava, bringing out the inherent beauty of Manipuri dance as explored by Guru Bipin Singh.
Ashtapadi from the Gita Govinda was cleverly juxtaposed with Yahi Madhava Yahi Keshava, Radha begging Krishna to leave her alone as khandita nayika, Krishna asking her forgiveness singing Vadasi yadi kinchidapi alternating with dialogues and finally reconciling when Krishna asks her to place her lotus feet on his head, Dehi pada pallavamudaram. It is the most poignant moment when Krishna surrenders to Radha. Most sensitively performed by Darshana as Radha and Latasana as Krishna, it was one of the highlights of the performance. The finale was with Telena, which Guru Bipin Singh had composed from the singing of Tanum in the Rasalila, which is similar to Tarana. They perform in druta laya and end with mnemonic bols of tanum, sung in musical mode typical of Manipuri singing. Their performance displayed the quintessential beauty of Manipuri in all its classical splendour.
The final presentation was by Nalini and Kamalini, disciples of Guru Jitendra Maharaj. They presented Shiva stuti describing the various attributes of Lord Shiva. Their Kathak, when performing abhinaya was chakkar oriented. Angikam bhuvanam yasya shloka was performed with élan addressing Lord Shiva. Both sisters are known to follow their Guruji's and Benaras gharana style. Vrajapati dinabandhu saw them performing Krishna's rasalila with two of their disciples. The viyogini nayika for which Jitendra Maharaj had composed the song, the four of them displayed the agony of separation. They ended with Holi and tatkar creating joyous mood.
3rd Day, Feb 22:
In Kala Varta, the renowned historian and painter Dr. Jiten Hazarika, screened some of his paintings and spoke on Rasa Theory, and appreciation of paintings and all other arts. There was an interesting intervention by young filmmaker Zulfikar Khan who spoke on technology and future creating quite a stir inviting questions. He mentioned Arthur Clarke who settled in Sri Lanka and passed away there. He had written on Cities of the future, how they will be. It has come true. Tall buildings in cities, narrow roads and what have you. Already we have electric cars, Tesla car which is being driven minus driver. Zulfikar Khan said that in next ten years we will not have any more mobile phones. Artificial intelligence will take over. It will change the world. India skips the stages and advances.
He also spoke of Kickstarter and Indigogo which can be downloaded and one can generate funds by crowd funding. Already young generation below twenty is using Youtube, snapchat, instagram, and watches Netflix. Kala Varta in that sense throws up some exciting discussions with painters, philosophers and young generation. Photographer Farook Tanveer spoke on problems of photography. Asked about prices of paintings, Dr. Hazarika said that Tyab Mehta, Raza, Hussain established their names and created market. One has to have faith in one's work and work hard.
In the evening were two Kathak group performances and one Bharatanatyam solo recital. Mohini Moghe and her troupe from Jabalpur displayed their penchant for Kathak and Kavya. Mohini Moghe belongs to illustrious family of great vocalist Raja Bhaiyya Poonchwale of Gwalior gharana. After her initial training in Kathak from Bharatiya Mahavidyalaya in Gwalior, Mohini studied under Guru Kartikram and Ramlal of Raigarh gharana at Chakradhar Nritya Kendra in Bhopal. She also attended workshops conducted by Birju Maharaj. Mohini selected poet Padmakar's poems on four seasons. Varsha, rains, winter, Sharad, autumn, Basanta, spring. The images Padmakar's poetry creates found felicitous expressions in each season. Though rains offer cool feeling, to virahotkanthita nayika the raindrops generate heat. Gopis tell Udho, Krishna's messenger to tell Krishna since he has left Vrindavan, it has no more cool weather. It is hot like agnivasa. Even the bird, Papiha, when it feels thirsty does not drink water, the bees over Kadamb tree do not hum any more. It is an unusual poem which depicts two states - one of natural rains and the other of states of Gopis for whom Varsha does not give comfort. In Sharad, the poet offers interesting similes. The moonlight is shining on the peacock crown of Krishna and on Bansibat where on banks of river Jamuna, Krishna is to play Rasalilas, the faces of Gopis illumined with moonlight. The dancers brought gossamer veils to suggest that image. Throughout the dance utkanthita nayika's state was suggested. Spring synonymous with Rituraj, dealt with imaginative images. The dandy boys on the street twirling their moustache looked like lovers. The joy as seen in birds, animals and pervading the nature brings unusual feelings of excitement. The group concluded with Tarana to the music of Pandit Ravi Shankar. Barring few lapses in coordination, the dancers put their best foot forward. It was interesting to note that the dancers chose poet Padmakar of Madhya Pradesh to explore abhinaya.
From Delhi, Guru K. Govindaraj Pillai's daughter G. Kalaivani Rajmohan gave a delectable Bharatanatyam performance. Beginning with Shiva stuti, she presented traditional Natesha Kautvam in Hamsadhwani raga and tisra tala. Her movements were clear and command over both laya and footwork was flawless. No wonder as she has had solid training under her legendary father. She was ably assisted on singing and nattuvangam by Elango Govindarajan, on flute by Raghuraman, on mridangam by Chandrashekhar and on violin by Annadurai. Meera's pada Jaya Jay Govind had popular appeal. For North Indian audience the familiarity with the song is an advantage for instant communication. Interspersed with jathis, it was performed with feeling. Baso mere nayanana me Nandalala, nayana bane vishala, the images of Krishna staying in her eyes and blessing her with greater vision was the refrain. The brief sanchari of Krishna subjugating Kaliya and grazing cows and playing flute were danced with joyous abandon.
It was in varnam (Kambodhi, adi tala) composed by her father and guru that Kalaivani was in her element. In praise of Krishna, with body as dark as cloud, nilamegha, the nayika begs her confidante to go unto Krishna and bring him to her. This was the perfect time for meeting. Even the birds were seen making love. The alternating abhinaya and nritta, as seen in varnams, were presented with accuracy. The teermanams were concluded in time. The abhinaya was communicative. Krishna's flute, its mesmerizing effect on creepers, birds, animals were depicted in easy manner. One interesting sanchari was of gopi saying that she had brought four pots full of curd to sell. The young fellows, friends of Krishna, asked for curd, but she suddenly heard the sound of Krishna's flute and looked for him. The boys then escaped with the curd without paying. The pranks of Krishna were depicted in an endearing manner. References were about Krishna's Rasalila, procession with musicians, Mathura and Vrindavan and Gopis' intense love for Krishna. Varnam poses challenge to a dancer as a test for stamina. Kalaivani performed it with complete assurance, doing justice to the theme. Finale to a Tamil song was about a young beautiful girl, description of her eyes compared with sun and moon. In a saree shining with diamonds, she awaits permission of parents for wedding et al… it was a love song. It would have helped audience if the gist of the song was explained in English.
Another Kathak group was from Patna led by Neelam Choudhary, who runs her institution Ninad and is a popular artist from Bihar. In her presentation of 4 sections, the first of prayer Purnam idam, was followed by performance of four male Kathak dancers who displayed their technique in taking several chakkars and also executing footwork with great speed. Dressed in blue angarakhas – coats - they performed with vigour and precision. The third section was of Sufi song by lead dancer Neelam and a bevy of beauties. The song was about how a nayika was shy and could not speak with her beloved, Kaise kahu sakhia mohe aaye laaj. The various shades of shyness were performed with the accompanying girls. The choreography was simple and did not involve any complicated movements, appropriate for the song. The finale saw the entire troupe in a spirited performance incorporating various intra-forms of Kathak. Amad, parans, tode, tukde, ladi, tatkar were woven in a seamless manner. The emphasis was on speed which won them rounds of applause. The group has enthusiastic male and female dancers. The overall impression was pleasant. However, the group needs to pay attention to perfect movements and avoid a feeling of trying to maintain speed.
4th Day, Feb 23:
Kala Varta had renowned authority on Khajuraho temples, Brijendra Sinh. He expounded on the importance of ancient history, philosophy and symbolic significance of Lakshman Temple and erotic sculptures. His explanation covered various religions, their principles, Tantric, and story of Adi Shankaracharya and his life. It was rather heavy to follow as too many strands were interwoven.
Anuradha Vikranth (Photo: TM Vikranth)
The highlight of the evening performances was two Bharatanatyam recitals. The opening was by Bangalore based Anuradha Vikranth and her disciple Shubha. A versatile dancer from the young generation, Anuradha has been running her Drishti Dance Centre and arranges annual Drishti Dance Festival for past 13 years. She opened her performance with Ganesh stuti. Both the dancers succeeded in creating iconic form of the lord and his epithets, with dwadash, twelve images extolling his beauty and virtues. The juxtaposition, forming images, moving with ease, covering the stage and clear hastas, created very pleasant impression.
Anuradha in her solo varnam in Sankarabharanam raga and adi tala, choreographed by Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam, with Tanjore Quartet's music, excelled in depicting the theme of Parvati who was cursed to be a pea hen, Mayuri. Prior to that as nayika she begged of Lord Shiva to grant her the boon and darshan. He gave boon to even demon Bhasmasura, who after getting the boon tried to place his hand on head of Lord Shiva, who ran hither thither to save his life. In that case why should he not grant her request to have glimpse of his being? The episode was performed with captivating drama. Since the story dealt with Mayuri, the Mayur Lalitam and other karanas incorporated in Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam's choreography were apt. There is an element of élan in her movements and she has an attractive stage presence that helps her project expressions in a communicative manner. The tillana by Anuradha and Shubha in Sumanasaranjani raga incorporated Rama stuti written by R. Ganesh and music set by Nagavalli Nagaraj. The lines were neat and brought out the inner joy of tillana, with Anuradha enacting the story of Rama briefly, towards end. Their performance had professional touch and sophistication.
The Kathak group dance which followed by Shayoni Chavda and troupe from Kolkata could have been better coordinated in movements. Trained by Vijay Shankar, and having received further training by pakhavaji Naresh Mukherjee, she has good grasp of Lucknow gharana. The stuti in Dhrupad and Hamsadhwani set the mood. Jayati Jagadambe Bhavani in Dhamar and Lagi lagan sakhi in Hamsadhwani were rendered with devotional mood. It was interspersed with nritta, chakkars and bols for tode, tukde, parans. Their group dancing creating various patterns including ginati could have had more impact if the song was not disturbed by pure nritta with counting ek do teen etc., for ginati. It looked incongruent. Also they did not look grown up giving at times a feel of school show. In spite of technical virtuosity in Kathak it did not satisfy the connoisseurs. The dhrupad song describing the best among the birds Garuda, among the elephant Airavata, among Nara Narayana and Sun et al had musical appeal. It was performed well by Shayoni. The Maharas as usual was danced describing the backdrop of Jamuna bank and full moon night.
Ragini Chandrasekhar and disciples
Ragini Chandrasekhar with her two disciples followed in Bharatanatyam with full orchestra which was an added advantage in terms of live music which had a punch. Ragini has enough experience for past 30 years having studied from her mother Jamuna Krishnan and others like Guru Dakshinamurty and Guru KJ Govindarajan. Beginning with Pushpanjali in Nattai and adi tala, Ragini established her command over nritta. Credit must be given to Jamuna Krishnan for bringing the treasure trove of Hindi padas of Suradas and Vidyapati in Bharatanatyam and setting music for them. The strong technique combined with lyrics of Meera, Vidyapati has instant appeal to any audience as the songs are loved universally.
Ragini's rendition of Ardhanarishwara form of Lord Shiva with attributes for Shiva on one side and those of Parvati on other side was depicted clearly bringing out the inner beauty of Ardhanarishwara form. The Meera song saw her completely immersed in being one with Lord Krishna. Her desire to serve him with song Mane chakar rakhoji - let me be your servant - was performed with total involvement. As his maid, Meera says she would take care of his garden, his bed, his other needs. And what more could she ask, she being with him all the time even in the midnight if she wished to have a glimpse of him, he shall bestow it upon her. Ragini displayed the moods succinctly.
Ragini and her disciples Tvishi Duggal and Gayatri Sheth in Krishnakarnamritam shlokas danced with joy depicting Krishna's various deeds. The one who has been seen sleeping on banyan leaf, sucking thumb, by the gods, is worshipped by all. As Krishna, his deeds are endearing. Caught red handed stealing butter how cleverly Krishna tells Gopis that he was grazing cows and little calf was lost. He had entered the house to look into the pot in which the calf had fallen. Listening to his clever lies, Gopis feed him again with butter. The shlokas, interspersed with jathis rendered in a booming voice by nattuvanar S. Sankar, were performed in a flawless manner winning rounds of applause. The shlokas culminated in Maharasa with the shloka in which Krishna takes as many forms as there are gopis. Anganam anganam antare Madhavo Madhavam Madhavam antare angana has a pictorial appeal creating the beauty of Maharasa. K. Venkateswar on vocal, M.V. Chandrashekar on mridangam, S. Sankar on nattuvangam and Annadurai on violin gave the dancers excellent support in a highly enjoyable performance.
The finale was by Mumbai based Akhilesh Chaturvedi, disciple of Guru Rajendra Chaturvedi, who in turn is disciple of legendary late Gopi Krishna of Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baje fame. Akhilesh had all the fire and energy to imbibe Gopi Krishna's style. He did his best to justify his approach to approximate Gopi Krishna's dancing. His jumps, gliding on the floor from one corner to another and even jumping off the stage were attempts to display his virtuosity. One could see that he was sincere but totally out of step with contemporary Kathak. He was in a time warp. Those days of Gopi Krishna's dancing are now over as Kathak has made several strides.
Magic of Khajuraho and classical Indian dances: Part 2
Dr. Sunil Kothari is a dance historian, scholar, author and critic, Padma Shri awardee and fellow, Sangeet Natak Akademi. Dance Critics' Association, New York, has honoured him with Lifetime Achievement award.
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