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A Z-gen upholding Guru-Shishya Parampara

Dance is a form of expression that brings people together, allows them to be creative in new ways, and is a fantastic way to escape the stresses and cares of everyday life. Kathak is one of the main genres of ancient Indian classical dance and is traditionally regarded to have originated from the travelling bards of North India, referred as Kathakars or storytellers. These Kathakars (we) wandered around and communicated legendary stories via music, dance and song, quite like the early Greek theatre. We communicate stories through rhythmic foot movements, hand gestures, facial expressions and eye work.

I am a 17-year-old Kathak artist from Indore. I am a student of Guru Dr Ragini Makkhar Ji and have been learning traditional Kathak since the age of five. I have been a dedicated disciple and am devoted toward the field of art and learning under Guru Shishya Parampara. I have been performing with my guru for more than half a decade and am improvising the art of storytelling by means of the Kathak dance form. With my guru’s blessings, I have performed on various national platforms like the Indian Television Academy Awards (ITAA) 2019, India Banega Manch, Colors TV, Chakradhar Samaroh, Tandav Season 3 and more. I was also fortunate enough to perform at India’s Got Talent Season 8 Colors TV, in the Group Dance category. I have won the Invincible Dance Championship 2019 and performed at the international meet of Rotary Institution. My biggest performance was at the International Presidential Conference 2022 and winning the International Festival of Dance and Music, Bangkok, Thailand (Group Dance category and Duet Dance category) in 2018. I firmly believe that my achievements directly align with my fanaticism in following Guru Shishya Parampara. Every success story has a back frame and mine is my firm belief in ‘uninterrupted succession’.

The teacher-student relationship in Indian cultural dance and music is much more than just imparting the technique, style and aesthetics of dance and music. The essence of this bond is sheer devotion, love and hard work. Both guru and shishya grow in the process; the student transforms through his guru’s knowledge and the shishya keeps his guru’s teachings alive.

Kathak taught me not only to become a good artist, but before that, a good human being. All my major enlightenments, blackballing Kathak, have helped me to tackle the ebbs and flows of a stereotypical teenage life much more easily. Initially, it was arduous for me to pursue Kathak as my career, as my acquaintances were planning to get ahead with academics. But the only bright spot which helped me to abide by my ambition was my family and my guru’s credence in me. With their grace and blessings I am what I am today. Today, I am trying to take forward and would want young teenagers to follow the most important mantras of my guru: Dedication, Devotion, Punctuality, Realisation, and Hard Work.

Kathak for me is not only a form of art or a field to continue, but a way to express my emotions and feelings. It challenges me every single day and asks me to fight with my yesterdays. It’s neither a hobby nor a passion for me, but a whole life itself.

The teacher-student relationship in Indian cultural dance and music is much more than just imparting the technique, style and aesthetics of dance and music. The essence of this bond is sheer devotion, love and hard work. Both guru and shishya grow in the process; the student transforms through his guru’s knowledge and the shishya keeps his guru’s teachings alive. Undoubtedly, the guru-shishya relationship holds almost a spiritual place in Indian culture. Respecting this power of the gurus and to honour my guru Dr Ragini Makkhar, who has made a huge impact as a teacher in the world of Indian classical dance, I intend to devote the rest of my life towards Kathak dance and beyond.

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Khushi Singh

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