Practicing and performing an age old classical art form needs not just dedication, but also surrender to the ultimate divine. Kathak is one of those graceful dance forms which brings the aesthetic beauty and sublime appeal to the viewer. It is downright musical, passionate and evoke a myriad of emotions in terms of subtle meanings, crisp footwork and magical aura. ArtHub has had the opportunity to strike an interesting talk with Mukti- a celebrated Kathak dancer residing currently in Hyderabad, after a long musical career in London and Bangkok.
Mukti feels that a dance form like Kathak should be taught with utmost dedication by the gurus and it’s not an overnight wonder for sure. “ When I learnt dance from my first guru Shri Mulla sir and then from Guru Smt. Shama Bhate, the environment was deeply spiritual. The teachers were willing to give the best knowledge possible for their students. Classical dance is all about surrender to the higher power and such attitude has to be inculcated in the students who are learning from an early age. I had great support and strength in laya shastra exclusively from Padmashri Pt. Suresh Talwalkar ji and remain highly indebted to all my gurus for teaching me art in such a manner.”
When asked about the challenges which arrive in learning a dance form such as Kathak, she says, “Dance in general is considered to be an expensive art form because the learning itself is not the end. The artist needs to invest in the costumes, art direction, hosting of venues, audio and visual equipment and most importantly support of accompaniment in form of Table, Harmonium, Vocal, Sitar and Recitation. The biggest challenge for an aspiring dancer is to beat the financial hurdles and initiatives should happen for poor artists to do the same.”
The sprightful dancer has been actively teaching kathak not just in Hyderabad but also in the UK where she has had enthusiastic students varying from all ages. She also maintains an effective work life balance with two lovely kids. Incidentally, her daughter Anvi Shri is also into Kathak and when asked about how it was being a teacher to her daughter, Mukti says ,” When I am a teacher to my daughter, it’s only about the knowledge sharing. Our bonding as mother and daughter definitely got a new edge after teaching her kathak.” . They even performed together on stage on various venues and got much appreciation as well.
Talking about what exactly is lacking in the youngsters and their attitude towards classical dance these days, Mukti said, “ Any classical art form takes time to learn and the student should completely surrender to the guru while doing so. The journey is more important than the result or outcome of an art form. The generation of today wants short cuts in learning which doesn’t appeal to me much. I believe in teaching the traditional way even till date for every student I get, irrespective of the number”.
Apart from classical dance, Mukti also collaborated with legends like Trilok Gurtu for a jazz ensemble on several occassions and she shared that experience saying,” The rhythm patters for Jazz were almost mind boggling for me and my co-dancers initially. But once we got the knack of it, the entire experience was highly rewarding. Composing kathak dance movements for complex jazz rhythms was indeed informative and also enthralling”
Before signing off, Mukti gives a valuable piece of advice to aspiring dancers saying, “ Surrender yourself to your gurus and the art form. Kathak is a beautiful form of dance which requires lot of subtlety and thought.