Monday 7 August 2023

Interview - Nishi Singh: All Kathak gharanas portray the same theme in their own unique styles - Vijay Shanker

Accomplished Kathak exponent and Reiki master Nishi Singh is based in Dubai for the last nine years. Nishi is the senior disciple of Kathak maestros Pt Birju Maharaj, Pt Durga Lal and Pt Rajendra Gangani. Nishi holds the distinction of being the recipient of awards like the 'Aekalavya' and UAE Amazing Teachers Award for her contribution in the propagation of Kathak on the international platform. Nishi shares her experiences regarding learning Kathak in different Gharanas, her challenges in promoting Kathak in Dubai, being the host for the online festival during the pandemic, her research on the spiritual aspect of Kathak and its relation to Reiki, her passion for Kathak for more than three decades and more.

You are one of the senior disciples of Late Pt Durga Lal and you have learnt from other mentors like Kathak queen Sitara Devi. Can you tell us the technical differences you experienced and your experience of learning from such veterans?

I started learning dance when I was 8 years old under my first Guru Pt.Rajendra Gangani. There was a dance institute called Sanjaydeep Music College in Janakpuri, Delhi, Guruji fondly remembers, and we often talk about those memories whenever I meet him. I really miss those days. After I completed my levels from Pracheen Kala Kendra, Guruji advised my mom to try my admission in Kathak Kendra, New Delhi. After completing my 12th, I cleared my entrance exam and interview at Kendra but was admitted to Pt. Durga Lal's class. I was not the senior most disciple of Guruji, when I started training under him, there were few seniors already. It was a blessing, truly bliss learning under his guidance. But unfortunately, while I was still learning, he left us suddenly and we lost our Guru, our guiding light. It was a very sad moment for all of us, but I guess god needed him more than us. I still remember his vibrant personality, his graceful, energetic performances. He often played pakhawaj during our classes and that sound still haunts me and gives me goosebumps. I remember all his lessons and miss him always.

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