• Shri Narayan Prasad ji 

      Shri Narayan Prasad ji was the youngest brother. He was the younger brother of Chiraunji Lal. From a young age,he liked to dress up and dance.He was born in Jaipur in 1910. He received early training in dance from his father and uncle. He started learning dance at the age of 8 to the bats of the footwork(thathkar).After two years of learning only footwork,he moved on to learning thodas ,parans, and other gaits. 

He was appointed to the post of Raigarh’s royal court dancer in his early youth. Subsequently, he danced at conferences in places like Raigarh, Kanpur, Calcutta, Bombay, Jaipur, and Jodhpur. He used to dace sublimely to the most difficult rhythms. He used to play tabla and pakhawaj very well, while also being a gifted singer. Tumri,expressions, and play-acting were his favorite topics. Shri Narayan Prasad ji considered music to be an essential element of play-acting because acting loses its impact without music. He himself would sing  in a beautiful voice along with his play-acting.

Shri Narayan Prasad ji was conferred the title of “Nrityacharya (Professor of dance)” in 1953 during the Belgaum Session of the ABM mandal in recognition of his supreme talent in the kathak dance form. He was the Head Instructor Dance at the GM, New Delhi for over ten years. He was an effective teacher in addition to being a skilled dancer. His famous disciples include Kundanlal, Shankar ji, Rani Karna, Rita Bhandari, Vishwaram.

Shri Narayan Prasad ji passed away on 12 September, 1958.   Several artists dance to poems penned by him to this day. He wrote compositions on Krishna’s character in his last days. People lamented that the Jaipur Gharana died along with his passing away. He was survived by four sons and three daughters.

 

  • Shambhu Maharaj:

Shambu Maharaj was born on Karthik Purnima in November 1909 in Lucknow to Shri Bindadeen Maharaj. Bindadeen Maharaj entrusted Shambu Maharaj in Acchan Maharaj’s care at the time of his death. Shambhu Maharaj was eight years old at that time. Shambhu Mahraj trained under the eyes of Acchan Maharaj until the age of thirteen.  He moved to Rampur at the age of fourteen, where Acchan Maharaj was the Royal Court Dancer. His training continued in Rampur until he turned nineteen. Then, he moved to Lucknow to publicize his dance. He was conferred with the title of Nritya Samrat (Dance Emperor) in 1936 during the Dehradun Music Seminar. Soon afterward, he was honored by the Sangeet Natya Academy (Music and Dance Academy), and was decorated with the Padmashri by the President of India. 

Shambhu Maharaj persevered for the development of the Kathak artform. He is credited with the creation of various types of tathkar notes and footwork. He gave a new life to the Thumri aspect of dance, and get a significant share of the credit for the revival of Thumri. He is recognized as the supreme Natwari dancer of this time,  depicting Krishna’s character through dance. The specialization of the Thumri art is that a single sound note is expressed in multiple unique forms. When he danced to “Kaun Gali Gayo Shyam,” he used to depict Gali (street) and Shyam (Krishna) is many different ways. He was considered the guru of emoting. He had a daughter and two sons — Krishna Mohan, and Ram Mohan.

The famous disciples of Shambhu Maharaj include Gopikrishna, Damayanti Joshi, Sitara Devi, Birju Maharaj, Mohan Rao, Maya Rao etc. He nurtured the Kathak dance form over a long duration of 49 years.

 

  • Jailal Maharaj

Shri Jailal Maharaj was born in 1885.He was trained by his father.He also learned in Lucknow under the tutelage of  Bindadeen Maharaj.then he was a dancer in the Jaipur royal court.He also spent some time in Nepal, Jodhpur, Sikri, Raigarh, and Mohur.He was a teacher in the Raigarh royal court for twelve years after returning from Nepal.He had two famous disciples in Raigarh named Kalyan and Karthik. There was also a disciple named Jaikumari  who was the best dancer of her time across India.

In addition to being a successful dancer, Shri Jailal Maharaj was also a gifted tabla and pakhavaj player. He was in Bombay for 12 years and then moved to Calcutta where he lived for 6-9 years until his death. His daughter Jaikumari and son Ramgopal were later the principal teachers in Calcutta’s Kathak Nritya Kendra.

  • Shri Bindadeen Maharaj : Kalika Maharaj

      Shri Bindadeen Maharaj was born in Lucknow in 1838. He received his dance tutelage under Shri Thakurji. He only learned ‘tig-dha dig-dig’ between the ages of 6 and 12. When the mutiny of 1857 broke out, Thakurji took DIndadeen ji away to some village and then returned to Lucknow after some time. It is said that Maharani Kalika of Bhopal once came to Lucknow to watch Bindadeen ji’s dance. She was so impressed with the dance that she rewarded both brothers with a reward of Rs 12 lakh. Soon after that, Bindadeen Maharaj went to stay in Nepal. It is said that he brought lakhs of rupees in wealth and property back to Lucknow from Nepal. 

Bindadeen Maharaj was a devote of Lord Krishna. After achieving mastery over taal (beats) in dance, he also presented beautiful expressions and emotions. He composed around a hundred and twenty five thousand bhajans and thumris, which is an incredible and praiseworthy accomplishment. He always kept his younger brother, named Kalika, with him for company. Both the brothers performed dances together, and were jointly responsible for the proliferation of the Lucknow Gharana. It is said that Bindadeen Maharaj danced with a lot of preparation with emphasis on presentation whereas Kalika Maharaj was gifted in beautiful expressions and emotions. Shri Bindadeen Maharaj as also a skilled tabla player. Shri Bindadeen Maharaj passed into the ages in 1880 at the age of 80 years.

Kalika Prasad ji had three sons: Shri Jagannath (Acchan Maharaj), Baijnath Prasad (Lacchu Maharaj) and Shambhu Maharaj.

 

  • Shri Hanuman Prasad

Hanuman Prasad ji was the eldest son of Shri Ganeshi Prasad. He accepted the position of a dancer in the Kashmir Maharaj’s court at the age of eighteen. After that, he spent some time in the court of ‘His Highness’ Ganga Singh Maharaj. Subsequently, he joined ‘Sangeeet Bharati” in Delhi, where he was appointed as the first Dance Instructor. He is credited with giving a new life to dance as an art form.   He favored religious themes in his dances. He had a unique approach to displaying expressions and emotions. His performances reflected an adherence to the purity of classical movements. Shri Hanuman Prasad had a son, but sadly he passed away at the tender age of six. He then had three daughters. His eldest daughter had three sons. Hanuman Prasad ji treated these three boys as his own sons and passed on his knowledge of dance to them. In time, all three developed into famous dance teachers/gurus. Shri Hanuman Prasad passed away in 1850 when he was eighty years old.

 

  • Shri Uday Shankar 

Uday Shankar ji was born in the historical city of Udaipur. At the time of his birth, his father was the education consultant for the King of Jhalawar. Uday Shankar’s spent his childhood with his maternal grandfather, who was a landlord (zamindar) in Ghazipur. Uday Shankar’s te.acher was a strict disciplinarian which turned his focus off of studies. He would often skip school and roam around the city streets, which had the side effect of getting him exposed to the realities of life

His transition into a dancer is a story in itself. As a child in Ghazipur, he got the opportunity to watch folk dances. On one occasion, he even got to watch professional dancers in action. All these experiences with dance left a deep imprint in his mind even though he wasn’t ready to become a dancer yet. His first involvement with art actually started with drawing and painting. He finally got inspired to be a dancer after visiting the Ajanta Caves. Impressed by his painting and drawing skills, his parents sent him to the prestigious Rochelle School of Arts in London.

While in London, he saw the dance of the famous Russian dancer, Anna Pavlova. Upon meeting Uday Shankar, Anna Pavlova recognized the hidden artist in him and recruited him in her dance troupe. This was the beginning of Uday Shankars’ recognition as a dancer.  After joining the dance troupe, he created a number of dance dramas based on stories from Hindu Purans. Pavlova continued to play key roles in these dance dramas. He performed in nearly every major city in America until there came a time when this Indian dancer became famous all across America.

Uday Shankar returned to India after that,. Once in India, he chose a French dancer named Simone as the key performer in his dance dramas.  Although Uday Shankar was well versed in classical dance, he added a new aspect to Indian dances beyond the classical context, which later gained fame as the Uday Shankar style of dance. 

Uday Shankar revolutionized Indian dances. The expansion of British rule in India had a highly deleterious effect on Indian dances, with no sponsors for the art form in the face of oppressive rule. Through hard work and creativity, he brought the dance form back to relevance and restored its higher status. He made the dance prettier and more graceful. Scorn and disregard for this art form had set in amongst the people.  He infused dance with modernity, creativity, new vision and imagination to overcome the existing opinion and make dance as an acceptable art form. He made the European countries aware of not only Indian dance, but also Indian music. He gets all the credit for the international acclaim earned by Indian dance.

Uday Shankar also produced a film on Indian dance, named Kalpana. He etablished a dance school in Ambala for the proliferation of Indian dance.