Remember Rohini Bhate, a magician of rhythm

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The 75th anniversary celebrations of the Nrityabharati Kathak Dance Academy will highlight the contributions of its founder, pioneering dance guru Rohini Bhate.

Nrityabharati Kathak Dance Academy, Pune, an autonomous institute established by Rohini Bhate in 1947, is preparing to launch a one-year celebration, titled “Amrut Mahotsav”, to mark its 75th anniversary.

The guru of Kathak Rohini Bhate

The guru of Kathak Rohini Bhate

The institute, which now has 16 branches worldwide, has monthly programs of performances, panel discussions and interviews with experts in Kathak and related dance forms, as well as its own senior members. The events will aim to bring out the salient features of founder Rohini’s distinctive Kathak style, which is known for its depth and texture as well as his thoroughly academic approach. Trained by gurus like Lachhu Maharaj of Lucknow Gharana and Mohanrao Kalyanpurkar of Jaipur Gharana, Rohini codified a comprehensive Kathak program that draws on these two traditions.

Rohini, who died in 2008, was a dancer, choreographer, teacher and scholar who had a holistic view of Indian culture and aesthetics. His approach to the abhinaya was analytical, and his choreographic works, shaped by his understanding of music – in particular, the structure and aesthetics of talas – and literature, bear a distinct imprint.

Trained in Hindustani music by Keshav Rao Bhole and Vasantrao Deshpande, Rohini primarily composed the music for her dance creations herself. and had a knack for choosing the most appropriate ragas and talas. She enriched Kathak’s repertoire with a vast body of work, often adapting oral tradition, and her productions included traditional solos, group choreography, dramatic dances, films and plays, and works on abstract concepts like time and panch-tanmatra, exploring the essence of the five cosmic elements.

Recipient of numerous honors, including the Sangeet Natak Akademi Prize, Kalidas Samman and Maharashtra Gaurav Puraskar, Rohini was named a member of Sangeet Natak Akademi in 2006. She is the author of several books, including Majhi Nritya-Sadhana, a Marathi translation of Isadora Duncan’s autobiography; Kathak Darpan Deepika, an edited version of the Sanskrit treatise by Nandikeshvara Abhinaya Darpana; and finally, Laheja, which covers his own creative endeavors and ideas.

Rohini Bhate's choreography

Rohini Bhate’s choreography “Vaayu”

Rohini said: “Dancing is not just about fun and fascinating physical activity. It awakens the soul and arouses a feeling of exhilaration rarely experienced otherwise. What is dance if not prayer? She was respected beyond the world of Kathak, and the late representative and guru of Bharatanatyam, Kalanidhi Narayanan, approached her after Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay, then president of Sangeet Natak Akademi, asked them to work together on the abhinaya padas in their respective dance forms. . Kalanidhi said of Rohini: “She is a rhythm magician, who gives an appearance of substance to the non-substantial.

The Nrityabharati festivities will be held online, with the opening event, titled “Smruti Gandha” (Fragrant Memories), featuring a modified version of the Golden Jubilee celebrations from their archives.

It will be a rare opportunity to see Bhate’s performances and his compositions presented by seasoned disciples, most of whom are now accomplished soloists, teachers, choreographers and researchers. ‘Smruti Gandha’ will be broadcast from 7 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. on July 10, the institute’s founding day, on its Facebook page.

Delhi-based author

written on Hindustani

music and dance.


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