Twenty-five years ago, I had the blessings of Ali Akbar Khansaab first presenting me in the Bay Area in 1992 when I got married and moved here. That year, I started this school with the blessings of my guruji Padmavibhushan Pandit Birju Maharaj. He himself coined the name “Tarangini School of Kathak Dance” and designed the logo. Since then, my students have also been privileged to get Maharaj-ji’s blessings and learn from him in workshops over the years. Today, it is such an honor to celebrate this legendary artist for his 80th birthday.
Parampara is a celebration of Maharaj-ji’s 80th birthday with a performance by the maestro himself, accompanied on tabla by Padmabhushan Ustad Zakir Hussain-ji. The event will showcase the lineage of Kalka Bindadin through five generations – his seniormost disciple Saswati Sen; his youngest son Deepak Maharaj and youngest daughter Mamta Maharaj; grandchildren Ragini Maharaj, Tribhuwan Maharaj, and Shinjini Kulkarni; as well as his legacy here through Tarangini dancers. Whatever Maharaj-ji presents with the legendary Ustad Zakir Hussain-ji will make the evening magical.
I have been blessed with a long relationship with Maharaj-ji and Didi (Saswati Sen). To me, Maharaj-ji is not just an artist – he is a profound human being. The world knows Maharaj-ji as a great artist, but I have also seen him for more than three decades as a student. I have never seen him express anger or raise his voice. Teaching is his passion. He has tremendous patience and keeps explaining the intricacies of the movements, always finding simple examples of day-to-day life to make it easy for us to understand. One would think that an artist of his caliber would only enjoy teaching experienced and mature dancers. But he actually comes down to the level of whatever age or experience level the students may have.
Maharaj-ji is also an acclaimed vocalist, expert percussionist, and painter; recently, he has also taken up writing poetry. From morning until night, during every waking hour, Maharaj-ji’s creative genius is always at work, always doing something constructive. His creativity emerges from things around him.