The Week, February 2014
Dancing is such a beautiful expression of human body and mind. It’s almost surrendering to God Almighty. Today the whole world is watching dance, especially on TV. Perhaps Madhuri Dixit has become the symbol of beauty and graceful Dance today. In Indian history, Lord Shiva, also known as Nataraja, Lord Krishna and Lord Ganesha danced. There is a great contribution of male Dancers in India. The most graceful male Dancer of India today is Birju Maharaj and all his ancestors, especially, his father Achchan Maharaj and his uncles Shambhu Maharaj and Lachchu Maharaj was all epic. There were great Dancers from Jaipur School too like Sundar Prasad, Narayan Prasad and Jiya Lalji Kundan lal Gangani. Historically when woman were not accepted or not given permission to perform on the stage, Men use to dress up like women and perform. There was a tradition of Bhaand Mandli performing where Men use to do acts where they played various female characters. A trend very popular now on TV!

Lachchu Maharaj who lived in Mumbai was the Guru of so many Dancers in India. He was the choreographer of the legendary Classic Film Mughal E Azam. How beautifully he dance directed the diva Madhubala while dancing 'Mohe Panghat pe Nandlal Ched Gayo Re' the song composed by Music Director Naushad and sung by Legendary Lata Mangeshkar.First time when I met Lachchu Maharaj, I was around Twelve years old. He offered my father lot of respect like his own brother. He would tell me 'Come to Mumbai with me; Hero Banadoonga!' however you should learn some Dancing. ‘On one occasion, without waiting for my consent he held my hands and began teaching me Kathak! I danced along as a mark of reverence for him. I continued learning suddenly from a distance he saw my Father coming he shouted Beta Bhaag Khan Saheb is coming. He knew my father’s mind that he didn’t want me to be a dancer.

While all the Classical Dances were at its peak, the Legendary Uday Shankar became the Face of Indian Dance. He created a new method of Dancing. He was the most famous dancer internationally and in India too. Later Ram Gopal also became a well-known Dancer. There is a huge list of male Dancers of India but the few names that are immortal for their contributions in their respective forms are Vempati Chinna Satyam, Gopi Krishna, Ramankutty Nair, Gopi Nath, Kelucharan Mohapatra, Lakshminarayana Shastry, Prahalada Sarma, DebuPrasad, Kitappa Pillai, Satyanarayana Sarma, CV Chandrasekhar, CK Balagopal, A Lakshman, K Kalyana Sundaram Pillai, Jatin Goswami, Raja Reddy, .VP Dhananjayan, .Singhjjit singh, Astad Deboo, Pratap Pawar, Durga Lal, Akram Khan, Rajendra Gangani, Ratikant Mohapatra, Jayarama Rao, Santosh Nair, Shashidharan Nair, Mayadhar Raut, Hare Krishna Behera and Chitresh Das.

Dance and music are deeply interrelated. This year marks the thirtieth anniversary of my tribute to Saint Tyagaraja in Tiruvaiyaru where I became the first North Indian classical musician to play the saint's kriti in Raga Sriranjani. I went from Thiruvaiyaru from Madras to participate in the Thyagaraja Aradhana. The late Violinist Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan had invited me. Since musicians are required to play only Thyagaraja's compositions at the saint-composer's samadhi, I learnt the Sriranjanikirtanai ‘Sogasuga mridanga talamu'.”If music is about solidarity of human hearts, for me it is cohesiveness of time, tradition and topography. A wonderful and strange mystery of Indian classical music is the fact that one can spend a lifetime trying to attain knowledge and perfection and still feel that one has only touched a mere drop of an ocean. Along the Journey of searching and discovering, the learning never stops. Its understanding changes with every year a musician lives. This is true Sadhana. Some of the greatest sadhaks in Indian classical music were Swami Haridas, Swami Tyagaraja, Swami Muttuswamy Dikshitar, Swami Shyama Shastri, Purandara Dasa, Swati Tirunal, Baiju Bawra and Miyan Tansen (from where my family gets its musical lineage). They are responsible for the solid foundation of the art in both north and south India.