A boy born in an illustrious “Kathak” family began performing as a child alongside his father, Acchan Maharaj. After the early demise of his father, when he was 9, his uncles, the dance masters Shambhu and Lacchu Maharaj, took over his training. Under their tutelage, he flourished and became a dance teacher at the young age of 13. By the time he was 28 his mastery of the dance form had blossomed such that it had won him the coveted Sangeet Natak Akademi (India’s national academy of music, arts, and dance) Award.
He came to be known for his perfect rhythm and expressive abhinaya, or gesture language. He developed a style that blended elements belonging to both his uncles as well as those belonging to his father. He seemed to have inherited the precision of footwork and the play of the face and neck from his father, and the stylized fluidity of movement from his uncles. Along with delineating episodes from the Radha-Krishna legend, he innovatively used the dance form to express himself on various non-mythological as well as social issues. He was especially known worldwide as a brilliant choreographer and helped popularize the genre of dance dramas.
Also adept in music, the boy went on to express his renditions of thumris and dadras (forms of classical vocal music) that were appreciated by many. He was a skilled musician; he played the naal, the tabla, and the violin. Eventually, he would end up composing the music and singing for two classical dance sequences in the movie Shatranj Ke Khilari (1977; The Chess Players), which was directed by the celebrated Satyajit Ray.
This brilliant cultural tycoon is none other than the esteemed Pandit Birju Maharaj. His choreographies and compositions are now part of the mainstream “Kathak” pedagogy. NABC 2023 is honoured to be presenting a homage to this great legend of the country.
TDANJ Presentation :
ARPAN : A Tribute to Padma Vibhushan Pandit Birju Maharaj.
Respected Pandit Birju Maharaj ji, a name that resonates with unparalleled brilliance in the world of Kathak. A true maestro, his artistic prowess transcended boundaries, making him a dancer par excellence, a poet, a singer, a painter, and a percussionist all rolled into one. His contributions to the art form are immeasurable, and he stands as an epitome of creativity and innovation.
It is with the utmost reverence and admiration that Tarana Dance Academy of NJ ( TDANJ) pays tribute to the legendary Pandit Birju Maharaj ji. In this performance, our dancers aim to showcase the different facets of his invaluable contributions to Kathak. With great pride, we bring his legacy to the forefront, presenting Kathak as a captivating art form for global citizens to appreciate.
With deep respect and gratitude, TDANJ has meticulously prepared this presentation under the guidance of Guru Sandip Mallick. Each piece pays homage to the revered personality of Pandit Birju Maharaj ji. The performance seamlessly weaves together the essence of paying respect through the Guru Vandana, the pure Lucknow style of dance with intricate patterns, Maharaj’s very popular music Sargam, and soul-stirring Krishna Bhajans and the intricate beauty of classical technical pieces adorned with the rhythmic beats of Taal Dhamar. Furthermore, we explore the enchanting realm of semi-classical Kathak through the emotive Thumri, immersing the audience in its lyrical grace.
It is worth noting that all the compositions performed during this tribute were originally created by the maestro himself, Pandit Birju Maharaj ji, beautifully rendered by Guru Sandip Mallick. Maharaj ji’s musical genius and poetic finesse shine through, enhancing the splendour of each dance piece. Choreography by Guru Sandip Mallick and Smt Debjani Roychoudhury. Program co-ordination by Smt. Debjani Roychoudhury.