Devi Durga founder Kathak Sansthan, Lal, told IANSlife, while sharing her views on classical education in the country, “I’m not saying that everyone has to take an art or dance form as a profession, but you have to know and be able to identify what is what. The information is passed on to the younger generation, but only to those who have a keen interest in learning it; they get it in the most competent way, but it shouldn’t be limited to just them. I see a big difference in knowledge, or even idea, of a particular form of dance between children studying dance and non-dancers.
“I’ve heard this so many times from non-artists -” Oh, is it? I never thought that Kathak and Kathakali are two different forms of dance. “That shouldn’t be the case. Schools should at least introduce the art forms to children in school in the most legitimate way possible.”
The experienced dancer is also a trained Hindustani musician before a Kathak expert.
She shares: “Before Kathak, music came into my life. Music has been my subject since I was a child. My father Shri Rajnikant Desai was a well-known classical singer from Agra Gharana. He was the student of Aftab-E-Mausiqi (the sun) Ustad Faiyaz Khan. I would wake up in the morning and see my father sinking into his riyaaz. My mornings were always rung by the sound of tanpura. After all, he taught me music. So I am a trained Hindustani musician before a Kathak dancer. ”
Lal fondly remembers that her mother would see her dance to any melody played, and also watched her dancing talent. Lal has trained under stalwarts, including Madhubala’s ‘Saqi’ (1952) choreographer Gopi Krishna and Pt Devi Lal, who also happened to be her husband.
From the beginning of her career, when she shared the stage with renowned dancers of her time, she performed nationally and internationally and received several awards. Her son Abhimanyu Lal is one of the many students she has today.
How important is Kathak to you? “Kathak for me is obviously the most important aspect of my life. I chose it as my career, in times when it was very difficult to pursue it professionally. I could have been a doctor or an engineer. But I chose to because I was totally in love with this art form. I think about Kathak the whole day, I teach Kathak, I choreograph Kathak, I do research. So it’s all about Kathak. ”
Lal recently curated the Aavartan Classical Dance and Music Festival, organized in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture, which broadcast exceptional young classical talent live and was highly valued by the artist community.
“It is very important to organize art exhibitions and present them in the best organized way as it is designed by the audience. And we as artists never want anything misleading to reach the world. A well-curated and well-organized classical event brings only the best out of the richly defined art form that is sure to help the artist community grow, ”she said.