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.