Friday 2 May 2014

Profile - Kathak Guru Dr. Maya Rao turns 86 today!

Internationally reputed dancer, choreographer, teacher, writer, academician and dance curator, Dr. Maya Rao is synonymous with dance. She was the first Government of India scholarship holder to study Kathak under the guidance of Guru Shambu Maharaj of the Lucknow Gharana. She also trained with Guru Sunderprasad of the Jaipur Gharana. Maya Rao initiated the need to codify and create a repertoire for Kathak in the 1950s. Her solo recitals and dance dramas imbibe both Jaipur and Lucknow styles, winning much acclaim in India and overseas.
Maya Rao was born on May 2, 1928 in Bangalore to Hattangadi Sanjeev Rao and Subhadra Bai in a family consisting of 3 sons and 3 daughters.  In 1945, Maya Rao finished schooling and joined Maharani’s College, choosing History, Economics and Logic as her subjects. Although she had a flair for dancing, Maya Rao was born and brought up in an orthodox middle class family, where elders did not permit their daughters to learn dancing. When she was 12 years old, she watched Uday Shankar perform with his large troupe of musicians and dancers at the BRV theatre in Bangalore and this performance left an indelible impression in her young mind. Initially, she was taught Hindustani classical music – vocal and instrumental (dilruba) – from Rama Rao. Impressed himself with Uday Shankar’s troupe, her father permitted Maya Rao to take up dancing.  “I started dancing when dance was taboo and to the progress we see in the dance scenario today, I feel proud to be part of this evolution where dance is seen as an important component of modern India and has percolated down to every household,” recalls Maya Rao. 

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