Sunday, July 5, 2020

An Interview with my Guru- Mukta Joshi ji

Today [5th July 2020] is ‘Guru Purnima’ (Full moon day dedicated to all Guru’s). The word Guru is derived from two Sanskrit words ‘Gu’ meaning ‘darkness ‘or ignorance and ‘Ru’ meaning removal. Hence a Guru is one who removes darkness from our life. In Indian classical dance, we follow ‘Guru Shishya Parampara’ (Master and disciple tradition). On this auspicious day of ‘Guru Purnima’ all the Indian classical dancers offer puja (worship) to their gurus and seek their blessings. On this special occasion of ‘Guru Purnima’ I want to dedicate my blog to my dance Guru Mukta Joshi ji.

My guru Mukta Joshi ji is a leading exponent of Indian classical dance form Kathak (Jaipur style). She is a famous Kathak dance guru and choreographer and the founder of ‘Nrityadhara Kathak Research Institute’. She has performed in dance festivals held in various countries across the globe like USA, Korea, Vietnam, Mauritius, China etc. She has received several awards.

I am sharing with you some excerpts of the interview my Guru Mukta Joshi ji gave me about her dance journey and vision for the future:

Q- When did you start learning Kathak? What inspired you to learn Kathak?

A- I started learning Kathak when I was in grade 10. My sister is a singer and my father played sitar and violin. So, I was exposed to classical music since an early age which led me to developing an interest in Indian Classical programs. Since I had an interest in Kathak dance form I decided to learn Kathak.

Q- Please tell me about your ‘gurus’ under whose guidance you have learnt this dance form?

A- I took my initial lessons of kathak from my first guru Dr. K Rajkumar and in 1988 I completed ‘Nrityalankar’ titled degree exam of Gandharva Mandal Miraj under his guidance. However, I slowly realised that his style was masculine and was not quite comfortable with my thinking. So, I consulted him and joined Dr. Padmashri Roshan Kumari ji. Till today, under her guidance I am taking lessons of pure Jaipur style of Kathak. 

Q- Can you tell me more about your ‘guru’ Dr. Roshan Kumari ji?

A- My guru Dr. Roshan Kumari ji is India’s leading exponent of Kathak dance of the Jaipur gharana. Her gurus were Shri K.S. Moray, Pandit Sunder Prasad, Gulam Hussain Khan of Patiala and Hanuman Prasad. On 24th March 1984, Dr Roshan Kumari was awarded the Padmashree title by the President of India. In the XXII All India Music conference held in 1963, the Prayagraj Sangeet Samiti, Allahabad awarded the title of ‘Nritya-Shiromani’ to her. She is also running a kathak dance Academy called ‘Nritya Kala Kendra’ in Mumbai since 1971. 

 Q- According to you why should one learn Kathak?

A- Our forefathers developed Indian dance culture after many years of deep study, but the objective of learning Kathak is not just limited to preserving the Indian culture. Kathak dance is a form of worship that provides us with mental peace. It is a devotion towards God. Kathak has the strength of making the dancer forget his/her body movements and engage in spiritual bliss. While doing fast movements and footwork in Kathak, the dancer gains a better control over his body which also helps to enrich self-confidence. 

Q- When did you decide to start your own institute of Kathak- ‘Nrityadhara’?

A- I founded ‘Nrityadhara’ in 1988. ‘Nrityadhara’ is an institute dedicated to the Indian classical dance Kathak and to the folk culture of India. I founded this institute with the aim of promoting dance, music and performing arts. 

Q- Can you tell me more about the activities conducted by ‘Nrityadhara’?

A- ‘Nrityadhara’ conducts several activities for promotion of Kathak dance and Indian music such as lectures, demonstrations, annual workshops and stage performances of senior and experienced artists. Besides, ‘Nrityadhara’ organises stage programmes for budding dancers to build their confidence. Every year the ‘Guru Poornima Utsav’ is celebrated by ‘Nrityadhara’ in which even the younger dancers are encouraged to present their dances. The aim of ‘Nrityadhara’ is to promote Indian classical and folk tradition not only by representing it but also by studying it from different angles. For achieving this purpose ‘Nrityadhara’ registered with the government by the name of ‘Nrityadhara’ Kathak Research Institute’ in the year 2002.

Q- Do you have any message for younger artists?

A- Under the overwhelming influence of modernisation and westernisation all Indian classical art forms are fighting for survival. Kathak is no exception. It is the duty of every Kathak practitioner to re-establish the glory of this ancient classical dance. I aim to involve more and more young minds and talents to spread awareness about Kathak through practice and performance.