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AID Presents The Legendary Birju Maharaj


Association for India’s Development, MIT and Boston chapters (AID) presents a rare opportunity to see the performance of world-renowned Kathak-dancer, Pandit Birju Maharaj at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on Sunday, October 7, at 7pm.

Pandit Birju Maharaj is internationally recognized as the greatest living exponent of the North Indian classical dance form "Kathak". He was born in 1937 into a family of Kathak dancers. His was trained by his father, Acchan Maharaj, and his uncles, Shambhu Maharaj and Lachchu Maharaj. He is now recognized as the foremost master of Kathak dance, having long ago earned the distinguished social title of "Pandit." He has helped to re-popularize Kathak, marrying elements of both the ancient style and the more contemporary dramatic style of later years, pioneering the use of multiple dancers in his choreographies. Kathak, a dance form filled with technical virtuosity and flamboyance, is characterized by elaborate rhythmic footwork (tatkar), graceful spins (chakar), hand gestures (mudras) and subtle expression of moods and emotions (bhava-abhinaya).

Kathak originated in northern India, and by the 13th century was a religious story-telling form mainly performed in temples. By the 15th century, however, it became more of a social practice, performed for royalty at palaces as entertainment. The form became more theatrical and flamboyant, with dancers wearing numerous ankle bells to accentuate their rapid spins and complex footwork.

Birju Maharaj integrates pure classical movements and style with a distinctly modern use of space in his compositions. Among many awards, Pandit Birju Maharaj has received the Sangeet Natak Academy Award (the highest civilian arts award) and the Padma Vibhushan (the highest presidential award for achievement) from the government of India. He was the invited choreographer at the American Dance Festival in Durham, North Carolina in 1991, and was honored with a special award at the prestigious Avignon Festival in Paris, France in 1995. Pandit Birju Maharaj, besides being a master dancer, is also a vocalist, percussionist, composer, poet, and choreographer.

His company has a galaxy of well-groomed artists including dancers and musicians. Among those accompanying him is Saswati Sen, a recipient of the Sanskriti Award, the Shringar Mani Award and the Critics Recommendation Award. Today, Saswati is regarded as an artist with immense versatility and talent both as a performer as well as a teacher and is one of the best exponents of the famous Lucknow style of Kathak. Also on the tour is Deepak Maharaj, the youngest son of the Kathak maestro Pandit Birju Maharaj. He has shown commendable taiyyari in Kathak under his father's watchful guidance.
In addition, the troupe includes Luna Poddar, who trained with Pandit Birju Maharaj. Poddar has performed in India as well as abroad. She has also performed with the Padatik Ensemble and appeared as a dancer in various Indian films, including the modern Bollywood film, "Devdas.". Instrumental accompaniments will be provided by accomplished musicians, Utpal Ghosal, on the tabla and Chandrachur Bhattacharjee (disciple of Subrata Roy Choudhury) on the sitar.

All proceeds from the event will go towards AID’s work among the marginalized in India. AID is a volunteer movement promoting sustainable, equitable and just development. AID supports grassroots organizations in India and initiates efforts in various interconnected spheres such as education, livelihoods, natural resources including land, water and energy, agriculture, health, women's empowerment and social justice.

For more information on the concert and on purchasing tickets, please visit the event website: http://www.aidevents.org


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