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Famous Kathak Dancers  
 
Pandit Birju Maharaj
  Pandit Birju Maharaj

The most eminent Kathak dancer of recent times is Pandit Birju Maharaj. He is the only son and disciple of Shri Achyan Maharaj and is a competent inheritor of the Lucknow Gharana. Birju Maharaj is a very talented and dignified personality. He is a born artist.

Born in the family of hereditary dancers, Birju Maharaj is the torch bearer of the famous family, Kalka-Bindadin Gharana of Lucknow, which has been serving the art of Kathak dance through century’s togather. Not only on India, he is familiarly known abroad, nearly all over the world.

He is a wonderful singer having command over, Thumri, Dadra, Bhajan and
 
Ghazals and is also superb drummer, playing nearly all drums with ease and precision. He has given a new dimension to Kathak, by experimenting this technique in the application of dance-dramas, which has become very successful medium for mass propagation. As a choreographer he is the finest in the country today. His bold and intellectual compositions in traditional themes are brilliant, whereas his contemporary works are also refreshing in concept, crisp and entertaining.

He directed and composed music and sung playback for two classical dance sequences in the film, 'The Chess Players' directed by Satyajit Ray. A measure of his genius is the fact that at the age of 28 years, he received the Sangeet Natak Akademy Award. In 1986, he received the prestigious 'Padma Bibhushan' tittle from the goverment of India. He also received the 'Kalidas' award. He is also a recipient of 'Nehru Fellowship' in the name of India's first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. He is an instituition in himself. Currently, he is the chief faculty at Delhi's Kathak Kendra.
 
   
   
Sitara Devi
  Sitara Devi

Sitara Devi is among the great dancers of modern India. Born in Calcutta, she was trained in Kathak by her father Shri Sukhdev Maharaj Misra and by masters of Lucknow gharana including Achhan Maharaj, Lachhu Maharaj and Shambu Maharaj. She has combined the traditions of Banaras and Lucknow in her performance of Kathak.

An exhaustive treatment of the entire gamut of nritta, sometimes in different talas, interspersed with gats of lyrical beauty and compositions of dramatic intensity followed by moving renditions of thumris and Bhajans constitute the format of her hours long performances, characterized by an electrifying energy. In many ways she represents a lost era of complete Kathak
 
performed all night with the accompaniment of masters of Tabla like Kanthe Maharaj, Samta Prasad and Kishan Maharaj.

Sitara Devi has danced extensively in India and abroad contributing to the popularization of the art. She has also been an actess and dancer in films since the silent era. In a class of her own, she continues to inspire her audience and fellow artists.

She has been honoured with the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1969) and the Padma Shri.
 
   
   
Shovana Narayan
  Shovana Narayan (Padmashri)

An exquisite diamond of her art style, intense and passionate, elegant yet vibrant, effortlessly spanning centuries of Kathak heritage as she does her dance space, Shovana Narayan is sheer poetry and sublime joy transcending boundaries. She is not only India’s most celebrated Kathak Guru and Maestro of the present age but she has also become a living legend who has blazed a trail in Kathak, re-defining the ethos and vocabulary of Kathak bestowing it with dignity and enriching it with a deeper and wider canvas of expression and dimensions. Every fibre of her body lives and breathes dance. Her performances are intimate yet pristine. A consummate artiste and choreographer, a revered guru to her disciples and an intellectual, she combines artistry with keen observation and humanism.
 
internationally known Indian and western dancers and musicians. She has performed before several Heads of States and Governments all over the world.

In her career spanning several decades that has seen her mesmerizing audiences all over the world in several prestigious national and international festivals, she has been conferred with numerous awards, outstanding among which are the Padmashri Award for excellence and outstanding contribution to dance by the President of India in 1992 and yet again the Sangeet Natak Akademi award by the President of India in 1999-2000. Some of the other awards won by her include Delhi Govt’s Parishad Samman, Rajiv Gandhi Puraskar, Bihar Gaurav Puraskar, Indira Priyadarshini Samman, Kelvinator’s GR8Award, Rotary International Award, International Congress of Women and Japan’s Oisca Award.
 
   
   
Malabika Mitra
  Malabika Mitra

A front-ranking Kathak dancer, Malabika Mitra received her initial training from Pandit Ramgopal Mishra of Jaipur Gharana. Later she continued her training under Vijay Shankar and Om Prakash Maharaj. Malabika Mitra has grown into a performer of notable accomplishment with a fine grasp of the technical intricacies of Kathak as well as abhinaya. Her performance shows an assimilation of the features of the different schools of Kathak in which she has been trained.

Malabika Mitra has been featured in a number of dance festivals in the country including Kathak Mahotsava in Delhi and the ghungroo Festival and
 
Kathak Prasang in Bhopal. She has also been featured in the Festival of India in the USSR.  
   
   
Kumudini Lakhiya
  Kumudini Lakhiya

Kumudini Lakhiya started her career when Kathak was loosing its reputation and interest among public. Ram Gopal who was one of famous dancer those days took her in his tour for performance abroad. In that tour she got appreciation both in Europe and America. She performed in Edinburgh festival in 1956 with Shri Ram Gopal. There they performed the dance 'story of Tajmahal'. She learned Kathak under Guru Rahdhe Lal Mishra (Jaipur School), Ashique Husain, Sunder Prasad. She got National Scholarship to continue further training with Guru Shambhu Maharaj from Ministry of Culture. She worked with Pandit Birju Maharfj. All artists who worked with her were impressed with her creative thinking. She started 'Kadamb' institute in Ahemdabad city after she got married with Shri Rajni
 
Lakhiya. She was also in contact with Shri Ram Bhartiya Kala Kendra. In 1980 Kumudini Lakhiya was honored with Gujrat State award for Music and Dance and in 1982 from National Sangeet Natak Academy award.  
   
   
Manisha Gulyani
  Manisha Gulyani

Manisha Gulyani was born on 14th September 1985. This versatile Kathak Dancer of Jaipur Gharna began her training in Kathak Kendra under the guidance of Dr. Shashi Sankhla. Presently, she is enhancing her kathak skills under her guru PT. GIRDHARI MAHARAJ. She has also performed in numerous dance shows in India, such as: Khajuraho DanceFestival, Kathak Samaroh Rajasthan Utsav, Vindhya Utsav etc. Manisha has danced in a composition 'Vande Mataram' under the Direction of Pt. Birju Maharaj. She has also choreographed for a chineese movie and various Dance shows and has participated and organized various Kathak workshops.

She is not just a good Kathak Dancer but she also has good command
 
over other Indian Film and Folk Dances like Chari , Ghoomer, Kalbeliya, Mand, Gair,Garba,Dandiya, Gidda, Kashmiri-Doongri, Pahari, Bengali, Odiya and few Tribal dances as well.  
   
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  Kartik Ram - Kalyan Das

They were born in Mhanwarmal village in Bilaspur in 1910. One can not say keeping them apart. Both dancers lived like one soul in two bodies. Initially they were trained by Pandit Shivnarayan, later by Shri Jaipal, Lachchhu Maharaj and Shambhu Maharaj also gave Kathak knowledge to them. Kartik Ram and Kalyan Das of them were expert in folk dances, which also make their Kathak dance more creative. King of Raigarh gave them financial protection. He also arranged music training for them. Exponent singers from Kathak world Shri Jailal and Shri Achchhan Maharaj educated them for singing. Till King Chakkradhar Singh lived no one could able to compete Kartik Ram and Kalyan Das in dance. Now very few people know about them. Later on they worked as teachers in Indra Kala Sangeet Vidyalaya,
 
Khairagarh and in Chakradhar Nritya Kendra, Bhopal.  
   
 
 
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