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Astha Nayakas Who Celebrate Womanhood on stage

For many centuries men have been responsible for upholding and passing on the classical art forms from one generation to another especially during times when women were forbidden from entering the world of performing arts. Hence it is not surprising that men have taken on women’s toles in these traditional art forms.

on the occasion of women day .Below are the transcending artist who celebrate there women hood on stage . a complete balance of gender, a true artists.

Kala Krishna 

Sri Kalakrishna is a leading exponent of Andhra Natyam. He is one of the senior most disciples of Guru Nataraja Ramakrishna under who he specialised in Kuchipudi dance, Andhra Natyam, Navajanardana Parijatam and other Temple dance traditions of Andhra in Guru Shishya Parampara. (Nava Janaardana Parijatam is an episode from the divine life of Lord Krishna, the Blue God and his spouse Satyabhama.) He has travelled extensively to perform at major National and International Dance Festivals, Conferences and Seminars. He has performed for Sabhas, Festivals of State Government Departments, Sangeet Natak Akademi and ICCR.

Kalakrishna has established his own school Hari Hara Nrithya Niketan in Hyderabad, where he trains young dancers in Andhra Natyam. He is presently serving as a visiting lecturer at the University of Hyderabad and Telugu University and teaches Andhra Natyam in the Dance Department to the students of Masters Degree in Dance. He has been teaching Andhra Natyam and carrying on the Guru Shishya Parampara for over 30 years.

Kalakrishna has received several honours and awards including the felicitation from Andhra Pradesh Telugu University and Gold Medal from Kuchipudi Art Academy, Hyderabad. A documentary on his “Navajanardhana Parijatam” has received the “Nidhi” Award by Andhra Pradesh Government. NCPA recorded his dance performances for pursuing archeological interests. Apart from performing, Kalakrishna gives frequent lectures and demonstrations about the art forms on behalf of Spicmacay.

Kalamandalam Venkit

Kalamandalam Venkitt was born on July 7, 1958. His father is Late Rama Iyer and mother is Lakshmi Ammal.

After school final, joined Kerala Kalamandalam for learning Kathakali in 1971. He had his training under Gurus Kalamandalam Vijayan, Kalamandalam Raman Kutty Nair and Kalamandalam Padmanabhan Nair. Emerged as an exponent of “Strivesham” in the all relevant female roles and role of Lord Krishna and toured all over India and abroad. In 1977, on the invitation of Kalamandalam Govindan Kutty, Venkitt moved to Kolkata to perform in Kathakali shows. Having received inspiration from his sister Kalamandalam Padmini, who is now the Principal of Kerala Kalamandalam, he decided to learn Bharatanatyam. He took it quite serious and developed into a captivating and dynamic performer under Guru Thankamani Kutty. In 1991, he had the privilege to participate at Kerala Kalamandalam Diamond Jubilee celebrations, Chidambaram Natyanjali Festival and Bharatanatyam Festival in Bombay organised by Darbar.

Venkitt choreographed many Bharatanatyam item in his own views and style. Received appreciation on his experimental presentations on Rabindra sangeeth in South Indian classical dance style. Joined Rabindra Bharathi University Kolkata in 1986 as a Lecturer in Kathakali to which he is still attached. He is a top graded Artist of Dooradarshan and his programmes have been telecast on National Programme several times. Founded Uma Kalalayam in 1995 in memory of his beloved wife Late Uma Venkitt for promoting, popularising, performing and imparting training in South Indian classical dance forms viz. Bharatanatyam, Mohiniattam and Kathakali. He is the Hony. Principal of Uma Kalalayam.

Haleem Khan

Haleem Khan is an Indian Kuchipudi dancer, performer and movie actor, born on 10 April from Ongole of Andhra Pradesh and presently lives in Hyderabad. Haleem has performed more than 800 dance shows across the world, as well conducted Kuchipudi workshops overseas. Haleem specializes in Rupanurupam (female impersonation) within Kuchipudi; he is well known for his performance of Bhama Kalapam and various roles in Annamacharya kirtanas. Hailing from a Muslim family in a small town, Haleem had faced many difficulties in learning Kuchipudi without his family knowing of it. Initially Haleem had performed under the stage name of Hari. His dance, specially the female impersonation has given him a ciritical acclaim and won him many awards and felicitations. Haleem is very passionate about preserving the art and is working on an interactive Kuchipudi dance instruction video.

Right from his childhood days, classical dance form of Kuchipudi fascinated him and movies were his primary source of inspiration. Long before he fully comprehended the obstacles that had to be faced, he had set his goals to pursue learning Kuchipudi. He was blessed to find his guru, Shri Kaza Venkata Subramanyam garu, who spotted divine grace in him and gave guidance to his passion.

The Passion, innovation and excellence of dance is ingrained in him, Innovation can be seen in many of his performances where he intertwined poetry and music (both English and Urdu) with dance, fused ballet with Kuchipudi. He can effortlessly bring out the aggression of Lord Shiva as he does the Tandavam, or can take the audience inside a woman’s heart who is romancing her man through his Javali.

Vedantam Satyanarayana Sarma

Vedantam Satyanarayana Sarma (1935–2012), popularly known as Satyam, was an Indian classical dancer and choreographer, considered by many as one of the leading exponents of the classical dance form of Kuchipudi. He was known for his portrayal of female characters such as Usha (Usha Parinayam), Satyabhama (Bhama Kalapam), Deva Devi (Vipra Narayana), Mohini (Mohini Rukmangada), Sasirekha (Sasirekha Parinayam) and Gollabhama(Gollakalapam). He was a recipient of several honors including Kalidas Samman, Sangeet Natak Akademi Awardand Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship. The Government of India awarded him the fourth highest civilian honour of the Padma Shri, in 1970, for his contributions to Dance.

Ajay Kumar

Ajay Kumar hails from Vijayawada, a great cultural center in A.P.He is one of the best known & admired figure in younger generation of classical dance, especially in “Kuchipudi Roopanu Rupam”.

Initiated into Kuchipudi Dance at the tender age of 4,under the able guidance of Y.Venkateswarlu, and KV.Satyanarayana and success fully completed his Post Graduation in Kuchipudi Dance from Potti Sriramulu Telugu University.

Upholding the traditional values of Kuchipudi and with the blessings of his guru, he was portrayed the female roles in Kuchipudi Yaksha Ganas.He has several Solo Dance performances to his credit. Apart from the Solo performances with his own troupe, he performed all over India Dubai, Sharja,and United States of America, London, Muscat, Malaysia,Singapore.

He is presently working as a asst kuchipudi lecturer in govt music&dance college,vijayawada.

Probal Gupta

Having fallen in love with Kathakali irrevocably, Probal Gupta — the boy from Calcutta — took his initial lessons early in life from Kalamandalam Guru Govindan Kutty in Kolkata. After long years of training, he felt the need to move on. And in 2003 he relocated himself to Bengaluru with a thirst to know more. He was subsequently trained by Sri Fact Padmanabhan and presently he is under the tutelage of the famed Sadanam Balakrishnan. Learning under this learned guru has been the experience of a life time, confessed Probal.

Probal Gupta’s productions have been a mixed bag of both good and bad. But his solo production from Nivantakavacha Kalakeya Vadham — performed at Kolkata’s Rabindra Sadan on the invitation of Sarbani Ajanta Kalasangam to celebrate the 5th year of her festival in honour of Rukmini Devi Arundale — where he was in the role of Urvashi was challenging indeed.

Probal specialises in both Purushvesham and Streevesham in Kathakali. It was learnt and performed with care and diligence. In the story, taken from the great epic Mahabharata, Arjun had saved Urvashi, the reigning queen of heaven, from the clutches of demons Vajrabahu and Vajraketu, whose main activity seemed to procure damsels. So overwhelmed was the eternally youthful and beautiful Urvashi, that falling in love with the handsome and young son of Indra seemed natural and inevitable.

Abhinna Sundar Gotipua Dance Gurukul

the voluntary institution is situated at Raghurajpur village (14km from the pilgrimage town of Puri, Orissa), in the residence of Guru Basanta Kumar Moharana & founder Director Guru Sri Laxman Moharana. 

Under the Guru’s tutelage and guidance, the institute has been working for the promotion and popularisation of the unique traditional Gotipua dance for 10 years.

It has already trained some Gotipua dancers who have become Odissi dancers, Gotipua dance gurus, instructors, etc… in their later life.

This institution also provide the boys with formal schooling up to the 10th class. The boys stay with the Guru in his residence for at least six years to complete the course of training.

Ten years ago, when the Gotipua dance declined and was on the verge of extinction due to lack of sponsorship and to the collapse of the gymnasiums in Puri city, this Institute started a Gotipua dance school in a traditional way where the boys receive the instruction fully residential.

It is nowadays one of the only traditional Gotipua school where the dancers stay at residence with the Guru to receive the technical and spiritual essence of this unique dance. The Institute has just inaugurated his new Gurukul house in January 2010.

Over the years, the Institute has painstakingly developed the dance form to the present level of sophistication and acceptance.

Abhinna Sundar Gotipua Nrutya Parishad, literally on its own, by virtue of their dance performances everywhere, has revived this traditional dance of Orissa, and made it well-known among the people of India and abroad.

Raheem Mir

A trained performer and artist, Mir is a Kathak dancer who specifically performs in roles traditionally reserved for women, dressed in women’s clothing. Famous for his languid and feminine interpretation of Kathak, Mir is breaking several boundaries in that respect

A dance enthusiast and a professional Kathak dancer, Raheem has studied M.A. in Contemporary Performance and Practice from Royal Holloway, University of London. A Punjabi at heart, Raheem’s love for Bollywood movies like Mughal-e-Azam, and Devdas ignited his passion for Kathak.

There are many male Kathak dancers in our country, but Raheem is like no other. Where most of the male Kathak dancers perform as males, Raheem prefers performing female roles, dressed like one. Raheem is not only encouraging gender fluidity by shattering the rigid boundaries attached to each gender but, he’s also promoting the rich culture of Indian dance forms through his dance.

as a well know hollywood actor Iggy Pop quotes “I’m not ashamed to dress “like a woman” because I don’t think it’s shameful to be a woman.” they are the true inspiration of gender equality and they are the ones who challenge the noms and create a united world . hats off to them 


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