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About Aruna

A graduate from the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, Aruna Bharti Swamy has devoted over 20 years of her life towards the preservation and promotion of Janakiprasad style in Banaras Gharana of Kathak, which is considered the original and authentic form of Kathak in India. Aruna Swamy is one of prominent students of the Janakiprasad style of Banaras Gharana in Kathak. She has received an extensive training in Kathak under Neesha Jhaveriji and Padmashri Sunayana Hazarilal ji, the doyen of the Banaras Gharana in Kathak. Aruna is a graded Kathak artist at Delhi Doordarshan. 

During her journey as a kathak performer, Aruna has created a niche for herself with her ability to connect with audiences, her beautiful abhinaya and her technical virtuosity. She has given numerous performances at various cultural festivals, nationally and internationally including Sangeet Natak Academi events, National Dance Festivals, SPIC MACAY events, International University performances across Asia and International Cultural Festivals in Hong Kong and Taiwan

Aruna Swamy is the Executive Director of Natwari Gurugram, which along with Natwari Mumbai is the primary academy of the Janakiprasaad style of Kathak for the Banaras Gharana in India. 

Her select performances include:

  • Solo Kathak Recital at Triveni Kala Sangam, New Delhi, India (Sept 2023)
  • Lecture Demonstration in Milpitas, California, US and Pleasonton, CA, US (July 2023)
  • Tribute to Great Guru Pt. Hazarilalji on his 30th Death Anniversary by Natawari, Rabindra Natya Mandir, Mumbai (Feb 2023) 
  • Sangeet Natak Academi’s event at Kathak Kendra, Azaadi ka Amrit Mahotsava-75th Independence Day celebrations, New Delhi (2021) 
  • 71st Republic Day Celebrations, Consulate General of India, Hong Kong (2020) 
  • Solo Kathak Recital, Sheung Wan Civic Center Theatre, Hong Kong (2019)
  • Dance Exchange Program, Dream Community New Taipei City, Taiwan (2018)
  • Arts festival, Baptist University, Hong Kong (2018)
  • Dance without Frontiers, Hong Kong Polytechnic University (2018) 
  • Asian Ethnic Cultural Performances, HK Cultural Center Piazza, Hong Kong (2017)
  • Ethnic Cultural Day, RTHK-eTV, Hong Kong (2016)

About Gharana

Janakiprasad Style in Banaras Gharana of Kathak

Nritya Samrat Ashiq Hussain

Pt Janakiprasad ji was a direct descendant of Pt Shyamaldas ji who served in the court of Maharaja Anoop Singh ji of Bikaner kingdom in the 17th century. In 18th ad 19th century, Bikaner had become a great centre for arts and Pt Janakiprasadji benefitted immensely from the influences around him. Later, Pt. Janakiprasadji left Bikaner to settle in Banaras with a vision of taking Kathak closer to its devotional roots. He studied the the Vedas and added new syllables to the dance vocabulary. These Natawari syllables are lyrical and smooth-flowing, qualities seen in the dancer’s ang chalan. He also created Barakhadi, a series of twelve compositions that can give rise to innumerable new ones in the hands of a gifted dancer. With these radical innovations Jankiprasadji laid the foundation of a distinct Kathak style that came to be known as Banaras Gharana. 

Three Gurus were instrumental in making this Gharana popular across India: Pt. Hanumanprasadji, Pt. Gopalji and Pt. Biharilalji. One of the prominent students of Pt. Gopalji, Ashiq Hussain became the most well-known dancer of this Gharana in the pre-Independence era. He was awarded the title Nritya Samrat by Ustad Alladiya Khansaheb for his excellent command over layakari and abhinaya. He was also a popular film star of the 1930s and 40s. Ashiq Hussain had many disciples – his brother Master Siddiq, son Akbar, Pt. Krishna Kumarji, Pt. Hazarilalji, Tara Chaudhari, Kumudini Lakhia, Noor Jehan, actresses Shahzadi and Hazoori, and Ratikant Arya. Before migrating to Pakistan at the time of independence, Guru Ashiq Hussain handed the torch of the Gharana to his star pupil Pt. Hazarilal. Unfortunately, Guru Hazarilalji died in 1992 due to cancer.

Guru Hazarilalji

Padmashri Sunayana Hazarilalji

After the passing of both Pt. Hazarilalji and Pt. Krishna Kumarji in 1992, Sunayana Hazarilalji became the pillar of the Jankiprasad Gharana. She performs to this day, and has been on stage for more than sixty years. Sunayanaji is the Honorary Director of Natawari and heads the Kathak Section of Sangeet and Nartan Shiksha Peeth, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mumbai. Sunayanaji is a recipient of numerous awards and honors including the prestigeous PadmaShri and Sangeet Natak Academi Award. She teaches worldwide through workshops and tutoring at Natawari affiliated academies. She has held workshops in the USA, UK and Europe. She was also a visiting faculty at UCLA. Her students carry on the work of performing and propagating this style in India, Hong Kong, USA, Europe and beyond.

To know more about the history of this beautiful Gharana, you can check out natwari.org

Discover the enchantment of Kathak with Aruna! Contact her for captivating performances, workshops, and regular classes.

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