Asian Music and Dance


A festival of kathak deriving its name from the season of Hemant (autumn) took place in north-west London from 13 to 20 November 2017, promoted by Sujata Banerjee Dance Company. A suite of workshops, master-classes, competitions and performances were on offer for all ages and levels, presided over by the kathak maestro Pandit Birju Maharaj and the dynamic Saswati Sen. 

 One of the most promising developments is the emergence in the UK of a strong corps of advanced practitioners, thirty of whom attended the master-class. Students of Sujata Banerjee were joined by those drawn from teachers such as Urja Thakore, Pratap Pawar and Sushma Mehta. Their curtain-raiser at the finale was joyous to behold. Sujata Banerjee Dance Company has been hugely successful in harnessing and directing the energy and imagination of young British South Asians to embracing kathak.

 In The Story of Kathak, audiences were treated to fine performances by Saswati Sen, Sujata Banerjee (in an engrossing solo depicting the attempted disrobing of Draupadi from the Mahabharata); the serene and fluid dance of Fasih-Ur-Rehman and finally the performance of Maharajji, marked by naturalism, playfulness and majesty. On the cusp of his eightieth year, Maharajji can still take the floor and execute a musical tatkar (footwork). The 300-strong gathering of rasikas (art lovers) savoured the experience. 

 Hemantika, only two years in, can only grow from such promising beginnings. The one appeal is for a raked auditorium for better viewing by all.



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