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Introducing Kathak in South Africa
- Vijay Shanker, Mumbai

March 28, 2012

The word impossible says "I am possible" but very few of us think about the immense possibilities the world holds for us due to several obstacles, but in the case of Kathak exponent Dr. Vinod Hasal, everything seemed possible as he arrived in an alien land like South Africa with a passion and determination to introduce Kathak to South Africans. Today, after almost two decades, Dr. Vinod Hasal is an established personality with his own dance academy known as Radha Krishna Academy of Dance and Music training several aspirants. He was in Mumbai recently to receive the Nrityavid award instituted by the Tejas Foundation.

Hasal belongs to a traditional family of musicians and dancers, whose contribution towards the propagation and enrichment of the classical art form spans generations. Vinod is the elder son of the noted Kathak maestro, Guru Ganesh Hiralal of the Jaipur Gharana. After dancing for some reputed organizations like the NCPA in Mumbai, Vinod Hasal became a life member of International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) and decided to migrate to South Africa without worrying about the implications. Vinod performed at the ISKCON centre in South Africa and other places. The response was amazing but it was a herculean task to make the audience understand the classical dance of northern India known as Kathak.

"For the first three years, it was lot of hard work, as most of them could not afford to pay, so I had to take free classes. Some of them were so poor that they could not afford the travel too, so I had to practically pick them up. Initially, I started with just 30 students. Today, I have students everywhere in places like Alexandria, Thembisa, Zonelo and Soweto (Zone 4 and 7) and Zola. I have been privileged to perform for former President Dr. Nelson Mandela and President Thabo Mbeki several times on prestigious occasions."

Vinod has been honoured by several dignitaries and is proudly associated as Indian cultural ambassador for Indian Council for Cultural Relations, Government of India and Government of South Africa, for more than fourteen years. As a choreographer, he cleverly combines fusion with Ballet, Zulu, Gumboot, Tap and Spanish forms. Vinod's style of dancing reveals his expertise not only in footwork but in the execution of varied rhythmic patterns with perfection. In his brief performance at the award function, Vinod performed a beautiful composition in praise of Lord Shiva that revealed his command over expressional dancing too.

Finally, Vinod says, "Classical dance cannot be measured in terms of money. It is of great value and significance like the sun and the moon. Initially, I had to go through a lot of hard work but with consistent efforts, the amount of goodwill and love I receive from my students, their parents and friends cannot be measured at all. They are like pearls and gems to be cherished."

Contact Dr. Vinod Hasal at

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