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Pandit Birju Maharaj

New Delhi, India

The artist who needs no introduction.

It is the New York Kathak Festival’s great privilege to have the maestro, Pandit Birju Maharaj present at the event, in the capacity of guest of honor.

Pandit Birju Maharaj, a recipient of the India’s second highest civilian award, Padma Vibhushan, is a living legend and an institution himself. The seventh generation and torchbearer of the Kalka-Bindadin gharana of Kathak, Maharajji is a celebrated dancer, choreographer, guru, percussionist, singer, poet, and painter.
A recipient of countless prestigious awards such as the Sangeet Natak Academy Award, Kalidas Samman, Nritya Choodamani, Andhra Ratna, Nritya Vilas, Adharshila Shikhar Samman, Soviet Land Nehru Award, Shiromani Samman, and Rajiv Gandhi Peace Award, he has been conferred with Honorary Doctorate degrees from Banares Hindu University and Khairagarh University.

Maharajji started teaching Kathak as a thirteen year old, at Sangeet Bharti in New Delhi. From there, he went on to teach at the Bharatiya Kala Kendra, and Kathak Kendra as Head of Faculty and Director. In 1998, he established his institute Kalashram, in New Delhi, and has trained many fine dancers around the world.

He is well known for his enchanting choreographies, and notably his work has featured in the celebrated director Satyajit Ray’s Shatranj Ke Khilari (The Chess Players). More recently, his work in Bollywood has included the Hindi films Devdas, Dedh Ishqiya, Bajirao Mastani, Vishwaroopam, and the forthcoming, Kalank.


Vidushi Saswati Sen

New Delhi, India

Born to a family of legal and medical professionals, Saswati Sen took to dance at an early age. She received her initial training at Delhi’s Kathak Kendra under the guidance of Smt Reba Vidyarthi. She received the National Scholarship in Performing Arts and graduated to become the prime disciple of Pt Birju Maharaj. Saswati is the proud recipient of the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for 2004-2005 and also the Sanskriti Award, the Shringar Mani Award and the Critic’s Recommendation Award.

Saswati today is regarded as an artist with immense versatility and talent and one of the best exponents of the famed Lucknow Gharana. She has trained a large number of students, many from overseas. She has acquired the true style of her mentor and incorporates into her own presentation both the lyrical grace and rhythmic virtuosity of Kathak. However, her forte is abhinaya which has always received high appreciation. Ms. Sen today is the driving force behind Kalashram, Pt Birju Maharaj’s dream institution and is its Secretary. She also finds time for her primary avatar as guru, and teaches the nuances of Kathak to all seekers.

She travels extensively at home and abroad disseminating the knowledge she has gained over years of dedication and keeps the Kalashram Kathak community together. She has choreographed several group compositions as well as dance-dramas.

The New York Kathak Festival is humbled to have Vidushi Saswati Sen as our guest of honor.


Prashant Shah & Dancers

New York,USA

Prashant Shah, one of the senior disciples of Padma Bhushan Smt. Kumudini Lakhia, is a critically acclaimed male teacher-performer-choreographer based in Queens, New York. Prashant’s virtuosity in Kathak enables him to perform a vast repertoire with masculine grace stripped of flowery affectation and makes him one of the outstanding male dancers of his genre today. The first recipient for Kathak dance of Sangeet Natak Akademi's Yuva Puraskar award established by the President of India in the name of legendary musician, Ustad Bismillah Khan, Prashant has performed in over forty countries as a leading member of Kadamb’s prestigious performing unit as well as a soloist too.

Prashant is a top grade artiste at ‘Doordarshan Kendra’ and an empaneled artiste in the established category of Indian Council for Cultural Relations, New Delhi. Often commissioned internationally to work with other dance styles like hip hop, belly dancing, flamenco, bharatanatyam, modern and contemporary dance, he has received rave reviews in newspapers such as The Hindu, Statesman, The New York Times, Star Ledger, Guardian, The Independent, San Francisco Chronicle, and Dancing Times. Prashant has performed solo dance evenings at prestigious dance festivals in India like Krishna Gana Sabha - Chennai, Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra Award Festival - Bhubaneshwar, NCPA - Mumbai, IIC - New Delhi, and Bharat Bhawan - Bhopal, where his performances were appreciated by both critics and connoisseurs. Prashant also heads the Kathak Department at the prestigious Arya Dance Academy, USA.

Prashant feels fortunate and blessed to bring in together numerous dancers-performers-disciples trained in the past by prominent senior Kathak dance gurus and also senior dancers regularly trained by him in his company. Prashant, is happy to showcase young upcoming talented Kathak students trained under him at Arya as his company performers. Prashant’s work mainly focuses on Kathak traditional technique and repertoire but at the same time he firmly believes there is always a scope of change and progress with current times to introduce new movements and rhythmic patterns. For this, some of his choreographies incorporate contemporary ideas within the framework of pure Kathak form.  


Kathak Ensemble & Friends

New York,USA

Artistic Director and Founder (1978) of The Kathak Ensemble & Friends, Janaki Patrik commenced her training in classical north Indian Kathak dance in 1967 at Kathak Kendra, New Delhi, learning from India's preeminent Kathak maestro Pt. Birju Maharaj. She has continued her training to date with visits to India. Her training at Kathak Kendra also included vocal training from Vidushi Siddheswari Devi and tabla instruction from Guru Purushottam Das.

Awarded a Merce Cunningham Studio Scholarship from 1971 to 1978, Ms. Patrik studied Cunningham modern dance technique, repertory, and choreography. Her training in classical western flute and piano, and study of Russian, Hindi, Sanskrit, Braj, and Urdu contribute to the depth and breadth of her choreography. Ms. Patrik has presented solo and group choreography in Canada, India, Sri Lanka and the United States at venues including Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, American Museum of Natural History, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum, Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC; Premier Dance Theatre in Toronto; Carver Center in Austin, Texas; Philadelphia Museum; Indian International Center and Kamani Auditorium in New Delhi, and Indian Cultural Center in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

A dedicated teacher, Ms. Patrik conducts on-going classes in Kathak technique and repertoire in New York City, where she has been active in arts-in-education through Young Audiences/New York.
www.kathakensemble.com
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Pandit Satya Narayana Charka

New York,USA

Pandit Satya Narayana Charka is a distinguished Kathak dance performer, choreographer, and teacher of international acclaim. He is the Director of the East-West School of Dance. He studied under Pt. R.K. Shukla, Smt. Maya Rao, Pt. Shambhu Maharaj, and Pt. Birju Maharaj. Pt. Charka is recognized as one of the foremost exponents of Indian classical dance. He has won many prestigious awards, including first place in the All-India Dance Competition.

Over the last 35 years, he has presented numerous ballets and dance dramas, and traditional Indian dance recitals, bringing myth to life for today's audiences both domestically and internationally. Some ballets include the epic Ramayana, the romantic Shakuntala, the playful Krishna Leela, to name a few. He also served as a cultural representative appointed by the Government of India in Japan, Australia, and the Fiji Islands. In addition, he was selected as the premier artist in major festivals at the Sydney Opera House for four consecutive years. He is a very caring guru and is untiring in his efforts to spread the beauty of Kathak dance.

www.anandaashram.org/PtSNCharka
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Anjali Nath

Boston,USA

Anjali is a dynamic Kathak artist who is a native of New York and began to nurture her love for dance at the age of 4, through her beloved ballet classes which she maintained into her college years. She began her entry into the rich world of kathak in 1997 at Tufts University, training with Gretchen Hayden and moved to the SF Bay Area in 2003 to deepen her study directly under renowned Kathak guru, the late Pandit Chitresh Das. For 9 years, Anjali immersed herself in training, teaching, and performing with the Chitresh Das Dance Company (CDDC) and Chhandam School, teaching and touring extensively with CDDC at prestigious venues and cities such as the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Roy and Edna Disney Cal/Arts Theater, Kohler Arts Center, and National Centre for Performing Arts in Mumbai.

Anjali has performed in critically acclaimed productions including Shiva, Shabd, and Sita Haran, where she played the lead as Sita. Anjali has returned to her roots teaching and performing throughout the northeast and co-directing Chhandika in Boston. Anjali is dedicated to upholding and elevating the Kathak tradition and nurturing the next generations of Kathak artists.

www.anjali-nath.com
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Shivangi Dake Robert

Singapore

Shivangi started her Kathak journey as a young child in the year 1991. Her journey began under the tutelage of Guru Dr. Sadhana Naphde. She reached her first milestone when she was awarded a National Scholarship in the field of Kathak by Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Government of India and received intensive training under the able guidance of Guru Smt. Shama Bhate.

Over the years, Shivangi has had the privilege to learn from the legend Pt. Birju Maharaj for over 15 years in workshops and has been a part of his various choreographies for stage performances, television projects, and more. Shivangi has several prestigious awards and performed at many notable festivals. She has also performed on national television for reality shows in India. She successfully completed her Visharad, Alankar from Gandharva Mahavidyalaya, and Master of Fine Arts in Kathak. Shivangi is passionate about imparting her art to young and old alike instilling them a love for beauty, grace, and excellence.

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Maithili Patel

Dubai,UAE

Maithili Patel is a Kathak dancer and choreographer from Dubai who believes in empowerment through art and attempts to spread social awareness using her art as a medium through workshops and lecture-demonstrations. She began her journey at the age of 4 and has been mentored by renowned Kathak exponent, Guru Pali Chandra, for the past nine years at Gurukul Studios.

Applauded for her grace, elegance, and intellect, she has performed at numerous events all over the world including in The London Parliament House of Lords; Modhera Dance Festival, Gujarat; in various other locations around Lebanon, India, the UAE, the UK, Belgium, and the USA. Maithili has also been a part of various panel discussions that talk about the inheritance of Asian culture and remaining connected to tradition in the modern world.

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Sunena Gupta

Berkeley,USA

Sunena Gupta is a disciple of Guru Mulla Afsar Khan at the Singapore Indian Fine Arts Society. She is currently also a third year student at the University of California, Berkeley, pursuing a degree in Politics and Economics. At Berkeley she is the captain and choreographer of the competitive Kathak team. Sunena produces Kathak shows to raise funds for charities in Singapore during her summer vacations. Her most recent production, Umeed: Colors of Hope exhibited Sunena’s passion for using dance to create awareness on social issues. She told the story of the journey of a young girl experiencing mental health, chronic illness, and self-image issues.

Sunena is performing an excerpt of this production, which was performed in Singapore and London, at the New York Kathak Festival. Through her journey thus far, Sunena’s passions and sincere efforts have been rewarded. Sunena was honored with the ‘Natya Visharad’ best student title in her eighth-year diploma examination. Her shows in Singapore have seen the attendance of High Commissioners of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to Singapore. Sunena has performed extensively in Singapore, California and London, and notably twice for welcome events of PM Sri Narendra Modi in Singapore. 


Nrityadham

Dallas,USA

Guru Prerana Deshpande, disciple of late Pandita Guru Rohini Bhate and Director of Nrityadham, is among the leading complete solo Kathak dancers of her generation. Internationally acclaimed as someone whose work reveals the perpetually expanding horizons of the traditional form, she is regarded for her command over the fundamentals of Kathak – rhythm, grace, and expression and for her creativity rooted in its tradition.

The USA branch of Nrityadham will be performing at the New York Kathak Festival, with a performance by Apoorva (Dallas), Garima (Kansas), Bhakti, Neela, Rushi, and Ishani.

www.preranadeshpande.com


Farah Yasmeen Shaikh & Noorani Dance Company

San Francisco,USA

Noorani Dance is founded by Kathak artist, Farah Yasmeen Shaikh, trained by the late Pandit Chitresh Das. A renowned performer, choreographer, and instructor, Farah is known for her evocative storytelling, technical precision, delicacy, and grace. Her unique artistic voice includes topics of historical, social, and political relevance, whilst maintaining the classical elements of Kathak. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Farah tours nationally and internationally, performing her own traditional and innovative works, most notably, The Forgotten Empress, focused on the life of Mughal Empress Noor Jahan and, The Partition Project - based on the 1947 India-Pakistan Partition.

Performing and teaching in Pakistan, Farah has become a part of the artistic landscape working alongside Pakistani based artists to reclaim their cultural traditions of South Asia. Farah has received recognition from the Walter & Elise Haas Fund, New England Foundation for the Arts, Zellerbach Family Foundation, amongst others. Noorani Dance exemplifies Farah’s unique artistic expression and vision coupled with the innovative style of her Guruji. “Noorani” means bright or luminous, with a dual meaning of enlightenment.

With Kathak as the medium, the Noorani Dance Company is comprised of promising young artists committed to enlightening minds and hearts through the arts through traditional and innovative training and performances, and collaborative partnerships across other forms of performing arts.

www.nooranidance.com
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Brittny Chandra

Atlanta,USA

Brittny Chandra hails from the Jaipur Gharana of Kathak. Brittny has learned from some of the greats, including Guru Pandit Rajendra Gangani ji, Pandit Birju Maharaj ji, Guru Pandita Maneesha Sathe ji, and Pali Chandra ji. She is the Founder and Director of Chandra Dance Academy in Atlanta, Georgia, which teaches students the traditions and techniques of Kathak.

Brittny has obtained her Visharad Purna with Distinction from Bharati Vidyapeeth University. She is also a graduate of Auburn University with her Bachelor's in Psychology, Master's in Education, and she is a member of the National Association of Schools of Dance. Brittny has been dancing since she was five in various forms of dance such as hip hop, ballet, tap, and jazz. She is also an accomplished trumpet player. When Brittny is not dancing, she enjoys spending time with her husband and three children.

The motto she lives by is “work hard, be grateful, and love.”

www.chandradance.com
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Pallavi Degwekar Shaikh

New Jersey,USA

Pallavi Degwekar-Shaikh’s dance journey began when her Guru, Asha Joglekar, accepted the then ten-year-old as a student of Kathak, a North Indian classical dance form. Hailing from a family of tabla players, rhythm was innate. She grew up listening to her father’s tabla. Stories about her late grandfather abound, she was always amidst doyens of Indian classical music. Her intense Kathak training under her Guru as well as the maestro, Pandit Birju Maharaj and coaching she received in rhythm and rhythmic cycles from the tabla maestro Pandit Suresh Talwalkar led to her obtaining a master’s degree (Alankar) in Kathak, several accolades, titles like ‘Singarmani’ and ‘Nrityangana 99’ and performances at prestigious events in India and USA.

Her recent debut performance at Lincoln Center, NYC in David Geffen Hall for the 11th International Annual Invitational was remarkably splendid and was very well appreciated. She has been training students for a few decades and is the Director of Nrityanjali Arts, a premier Kathak dance school in New Jersey. She is also in-charge of Bharati Vidyapeeth’s New Jersey examination center for all five streams  (Kathak, Bharatanatyam, vocal, instrument, and percussion).

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Courtyard Dancers

Philadelphia,USA

Courtyard Dancers is a nonprofit community-centered arts organization (with branches in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Kolkata) interested in developing the art of Kathak Dance as cultural literacy and empowerment. It is a collective of a vibrant and diverse group of professionals and students for whom dancing is a form of civic engagement to connect to the traditional arts of India but within contemporary aesthetics and progressive politics.

The company aims for artistic excellence by adhering to the precision and rigor of classical Indian dances but with a critical understanding of their exclusionary politics. Courtyard Dancers is especially interested in working with the poetic forms in Kathak such as ghazal, thumri, and qawwali for exploring emotional landscapes of love, justice, humanism and hope.

Pallabi Chakravorty, Kathak dancer, choreographer, and anthropologist founded Courtyard Dancers in Philadelphia to make dance works that express a postcolonial modernist voice. Her choreographies are based on historical and contemporary events in India, such as partition (Asunder), the anti-nautch movement (Silencing the Nautch), globalization/migration (Unsung Arrivals), and communal violence (The Mahatma is Fasting), among others. She has received grants from Dance Advance Pew, Leeway foundation, and the Rocky’s dance award by Live Arts Festival/Philly Fringe. Pallabi is the Director of Dance at Swarthmore College in the Department of Music and Dance where she has been building a Kathak program.

www.courtyarddancers.org
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Barkha Patel

New Jersey,USA

Barkha Patel is an Indian classical Kathak dancer, performing artist, choreographer, and educator. Barkha has trained in Kathak with Guru Rachna Sarang. She completed her Masters in Performing Arts in India and continues to train with Pandit Divyang Vakil to deepen her understanding of Hindustani classical rhythm and music.

Barkha currently runs Barkha Dance Company and was invited to perform for Jacob’s Pillow Inside/Out series and is a choreographic fellow at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. Barkha teaches dance to help young and adult students become aware of their physical strength and grace but also learn the history and culture of Kathak dance. Currently, Barkha is working on her first, full length production called Mukta, A Woman Liberated.

www.barkhadance.com
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Labonee Mohanta

San Francisco,USA

Labonee Mohanta, disciple of Kathak maestro Pandit Chitresh Das, began her training at the age of 8. She is a prominent solo artist, having performed Kathak solos to great acclaim in dance and music festivals throughout the United States, Canada, India, and Europe. Labonee has become renowned for dynamism in her dance, fiery footwork, graceful movement, and speedy pirouettes. Some of the prestigious places she has performed at include the Stars of Tomorrow Festival at West Bengal Dance Federation, SPICMACAY at Bengal Chamber of Commerce, Raginee Music Conference at Birla Academy, Chhayanaut Music & Dance Academy in Dhaka, and various other cultural associations in North America and India, as well as many universities and institutions in Europe.

Labonee was a principal dancer of the Chitresh Das Dance Company and toured extensively with Panditji’s award-winning productions. She served as center director and senior teacher at Panditji's institution for many years. Recently she has started her own dance school in California and conducts workshops in other parts of USA, Canada, Europe, and India. As a second generation Indian in America, she plays a significant role in preserving the cultural heritage of India in the East and spreading these values in the West.

www.labonee.com
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Srijan Dance Center

New York,USA

Srijan Dance Center, a creative unit of Suparc Enterprises Inc., started off in 1994 with a handful of talented and dedicated Indian dance students, and now has fifty regular Kathak, Indian folk dance, and yoga students, trained under the tutelage of Abha Bhatnagar Roy.

Located in the tri-state area, Srijan is involved in successfully introducing Indian culture to NYC libraries, museums, public schools, and other major establishments including Lincoln Center, Columbia University, and the United Nations. Srijan Dance Center is also actively involved in NYC Board of Education’s “Project Arts,” where it conducts storytelling, yoga, and dance workshops for K-12 students, their parents, and teachers.

www.srijandance.com
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Tarika Nath

Houston,USA

Tarika Nath is a 21-year old dancer from Houston, Texas. She has been learning the Lucknow Gharana of Kathak from her own mother and Guru, Smt. Shiva Mathur for the past 15 years. Smt. Shiva Mathur founded her own school for Kathak, dholak, and tabla 20 years ago called the Shivangini Academy of Arts. Known for her unique style of teaching with an emphasis on bhaav nritya, she has trained over 300 students in the Houston area. She recently choreographed Charulata, an adaptation of Cinderella in Kathak, in which Tarika was given the lead role of the princess herself!

In addition to learning with her mother, Tarika frequently travels to India to train with the esteemed Padma Vibhushan Pt. Birju Maharaj and Vidushi Saswati Sen to further her knowledge and dedication in Kathak. Tarika’s main passion is helping her mother teach Kathak while furthering her own riyaaz. With the blessings of her gurus, her ultimate goal is to inspire and encourage young, millennial artists like herself to proactively seek opportunities to share their love for Kathak and pass the art to the next generation. She will be graduating from the University of Texas at Austin in May with degrees in Economics, Government, and English.

www.shivanginiclasses.com
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Anindita Neogy Anaam

Wisconsin,USA

Anindita Neogy Anaam is a leading exponent of Indian classical dance Kathak and a well- known instructor, performer and choreographer presently based in Wisconsin, United States of America. She started her advance training under the tutelage Pt Rajendra Gangani. She also received intensive training under Pt Jai Kishan Maharaj the doyen of in Lucknow school of Kathak. Her dance style is a blend of both the schools of Kathak and she believes in the philosophy of incorporating feminine grace into technical recital of the style.

Anindita is a recipient of Shri Jayadev Rashtriya Yuva Puraskar, Bidagdha Nartaki Samman and National Nritya Shiromani. She is also a coveted Indian Raga Fellow. She has performed in leading festivals of India, Germany and USA including Logging and Heritage Festival (Marinette), Out to Lunch Business Initiative, Nritya Samarpana Dance Festival, Rhythms of the world, BAGC Chicago where she shared the stage with Mohan Veena virtuoso Pt Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, Diversity Festival, Kultur Nacht, Sharad Utsav, Kundan Lal Gangani Smriti Utsav, Birju Maharaj Parampara Varshik Utsav, Jayadev Samaroh, Devdasi International Dance Festival, and International Dance Festival, Cuttack. She has also performed at the India Habitat Center, as part of the Delhi International Arts Festival 2018. The top art critic Manjari Sinha termed her recital as “beauty and grace.”

She is Secretary of Wisconsin Dance Council board of members and the first Indian Kathak Dancer chosen to serve in the board.

https://www.aninditaneogy.com/
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Ruee Gawarikar

New Jersey,USA

Ruee Gawarikar is a Kathak and contemporary dancer, choreographer, teacher, and a visual artist based in New Jersey. She started her training in Kathak a classical dance style from northern India, under the tutelage of the renowned dancer Shrimati Prabhatai Marathe, of the Kala Chaya Institute of Dance. She continued her education in US under the guidance of Pandit Satya Narayana Charka.

Ruee has been a company artist with Surati, The East West School of Dance, and Kala Chhaya. Being a versatile dancer, Ruee has been part of several major productions like the Kathak ballet Shanti Mantra, Ramayan, Tyohaar-Festivals of India and Krishna Leela. She has performed extensively in India and in US, in prestigious venues like the Ganesh Festival of Pune, Acchan Maharaj Mahotsav at the Kamani Auditorium in Delhi, World Financial Center, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Times Square, and the Indian Consulate in New York. Ruee is also a choreographer, working in both traditional and contemporary dance forms. She likes to experiment with various art styles and media, which is evident in her choreographies like the abstract dance drama – Kadhi He Kadhi Te where she has collaborated with other dancers, poets, artists, and theater groups.

Ruee is the founder and artistic director of Daad Arts, a New Jersey based performing and visual arts company. She has been a visual art instructor at the Bharti Vidyapeeth’s College of Fine Arts in India. She is passionate about art education and continues to teach dance as well as fine arts. She currently lives, works, and teaches in Lawrenceville, New Jersey.

www.daadarts.com