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An essay on Kathak by Madhu Anant

I came to Asavari in January of 2000 after finding Gargi Bagchi's website.  I have studied Indian art and culture for many years and was always interested in Indian classical dance after spending several months in India in 1989.  More recently I was fortunate to go back to India in October/November of 2002 for Durga Puja with Gargi's family.

I am so thankful that Gargiji has taken me as a student despite me being American and not speaking any Indian languages.  I am inspired by such Kathak masters as Pandit Birju Maharaj, Saraswati Sen, and especially by Veronique Azan, another non-Indian Kathak dancer (

I don't know why I am so inspired and moved by Indian art, culture and music - I have just always felt it is something in my blood; it speaks to me and I try to speak back through my dancing and emotions displayed on stage.  I hope my new son embraces the beauty as much as I have.  Thank you Asavari, for sharing this ancient art with me. - Kiri (32), New Fairfield, Connecticut
I came to Asavari in August of 2001 after coming to know of the school from the National Heritage Fair. When I joined Asavari, I had absolutely no idea of Indian Classical Music or Dance. Because of Gargi Aunty's calm nature and her patience with her students, I have been able to evolve from a "stiff stick" to a less "stiff stick" dancer. I am not advanced enough to consider myself a graceful dancer…..yet!

Kathak dance not only teaches me the art of dancing, but also the art of music and recognize the rhythm of classical music. Moreover, it also enhances my knowledge of Hindu and Muslim Religion because of the dance compositions.

My inspiration and interest was aroused after our Annual Concert in June 2002. When I saw all the advanced dancers on stage, I was fascinated by their grace, confidence and rhythm. It is this fascination with gracefulness and rhythm that inspires me to someday achieve the same grace, confidence and rhythm.

My Mom takes an avid interest in my dance progress, and if it were not for her efforts, I would not be achieving the results I am.

I was rather disappointed that I was not able to perform at the Diwali Concert at South Street Sea Port and represent Asavari, but my goal is to one day, be a dancer with at least an iota of the grace my teacher possesses and represent Asavari at future concerts. - Anokhi (9), White Plains, New York
I considers myself very fortunate to have Smt. Gargi Bagchi as my 'guru' in Kathak. She is determined to do very hard work to learn more in Kathak. She loves Kathak and Asavari too.

My Kathak career:
  • Learning Kathak for five years
  • Fourth student enrolled at Asavari
  • Participated in all four Annual Concerts of Asavari since 1999
  • Performed Kathak in other concerts organized by AIA, IACAW, ISKON, Bharat Sevashram Sangha, Cultural Association of Bengal etc. in the tri-state area
Achievements so far in Kathak:
  • Received ' Best Foot-Works and Circles Award' in Asavari's annual concert held in June 2002
  • Graded A+ in Asavari's 2002 -theoretical and practical examinations and has been promoted to the Senior Intermediate class from that of Junior Beginner
- Bhasha (9), Leonia, New Jersey
I came to Asavari in September of 2002 after watching my sister dance. Gargi Aunty told my Mom that I had a natural flair for dancing. Being only 4 ½ years old, I am still very playful, and am more interested in playing with Srishti. Gargi Aunty is very patient and very calm with us. She does not scold us or shout at us, but when we make a mistake, she gently corrects us.

She teaches us theory and practical of Kathak dance and quizzes us all the time, so we do not forget it. Gargi Aunty says I am very good at "Navras - The Nine Sentiments".

I am still very new to Kathak and have not participated in any concert, but I look forward to participating in the Winter Concert. My Grandpa has bought me beautiful "ghunghroos" and also jewellery and I have a Kathak "Lehenga" from India, and I am looking forward to dancing on stage in the Winter Concert.

My inspiration is my sister. Whatever she does, I like to do. So I hope I will be just as good as her when I get older. One thing I don't like to do is practice, but my Mom makes me practice so that I can get my footwork straight. - Sajani (5), New York
At the age of 6, I was introduced to the Indian culture through physical forms. Since then I have been dancing (Bharatnatym) and have enjoyed every class. Not only has it made me a true Indian, it has given me the knowledge to appreciate music, dance, grace, beauty and talent. Just recently I have started taking Classical Hindustani Voice Lessons. These lessons have given me courage and self confidence. They are something I can work on to become good at and if not, atleast I will have fun singing in the shower.
- Komal (15), Mt. Kisco, New York
I was introduced to Asavari from its website, but I had heard good things before that about Gargi Ji from friends. I had always loved Kathak, since I was a child, but never worked up the nerve to actually take classes. After graduating from college, I decided it was high time I began to do what I always wanted to. I have done dances and performances in the past, but they were always for more folk dances. Kathak is a different experience, one that with Gargi Ji's knowledge and patience, I am enjoying and learning from. - Anamika (23), White Plains, New York
Hello! My name is Nidhi. I started learning Kathak soon after I turned 4. Now its fun, though it was a little tough at first. It was hard to move my hands and feet together, but now I'm getting better. I like wearing my bells and the sound they make. I also like saying the bols. I would like to be a good dancer someday. My mom helps me practice at home. My dad tries to help too, but he's not very good at it and keeps making mistakes, so I have to show him the right steps.

I'm also learning how to play the piano. My teacher, Miss Rochelle, is very nice. She has taught me some songs, and how to recognize the notes on the keyboard. She plays classical music for me sometimes.

I go to school at the Pelham Children's Center everyday. It's fun to play there with my friends, and also have them come over to my house to play. My favorite games are dolls, trains, and pirates, and painting. I love to go shopping with my mom, and also help her cook sometimes. I also love to travel with my mom and dad and see new places. - Nidhi (5), Pelham, New York
Hello. My name is Nikita and I live in Manhattan, New York. I have been learning Kathak since I was 5. Asavari is great, and being one of Gargi Ji's students is a pleasure. Gargi Ji makes Kathak fun and at the same time I have learned a lot from her talent. I started learning from her few months ago and it is amazing to see how much I have improved. She is a great teacher as well as a fun person to learn from. I have always loved Kathak, since I was very small. I have been to many Kathak programs and have enjoyed them. I went to a Birju Maharaj Kathak concert, which was a great opportunity. I have been inspired by many professional kathak dancers,  as well as my friends who have more experience with the dance. I wish to become a great kathak dancer, and I will be happy if I achieve one of my many goals. My other interests are sports, music, and other kinds of dance. I play the piano once a week with my teacher. I have learned many classical pieces, and have composed several by myself. I am dedicated to learning the piano as I am about kathak.
Nikita (13), Manhattan, New York
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