Murari Sharan Gupta (Guru & Mentor)

Shri Murari Sharan Gupta is a leading Kathak exponent acclaimed for his versatility as a performer, choreographer and teacher. He is a notable performer having trained in Kathak with the legendary Kathak maestro Pandit. Birju Maharaj. He is equally proficient in the technical, rhythmic and the expressive elements of Kathak, and teaches all over the world. He runs his own academy of Kathak in Bangalore known as Samam – Center for Movement and Dance since 2006 to fulfil his dream of perpetuating the rich cultural heritage of India.

Shri Murari is now established as one of the leading Kathak gurus in Bangalore. Sámám is blessed with enthusiastic students, supportive families & well-wishers and a team of talented and committed teachers. Determined to fulfill his social responsibility, he established the NGO wing of Sámám which helps enable the cultural education of underprivileged children in India. His work with underprivileged children gives Murari immense joy and satisfaction.

Through Samam he has presented both traditional and innovative works. He has also choreographed musicals, dance dramas and Kathak fusion with artists from around the world. His primary mission, however is to promote Kathak through performances and workshops around India and the world. He has received several accolades for his contributions to Kathak and its repertoire.

Murari Sharan Gupta is Simran Godhwani’s Guru and has been closely associated with Krshala since inception.

Simran Godhwani

Though she flirted with dance for a bit as a teenager, it was never Simran’s first choice for a profession. She worked in Human Resources for quite sometime before a sense of despondency started creeping in. She knew her heart that spending time in small cubicle with loads of spreadsheets was the not her destiny.

One fine day, a meeting with one Kathak’s leading Gurus changed her life. She quit
her high paying job, and decided to dance for as long as she can.

Today, 15 years after taking that decision, Simran is not only an internationally acclaimed and well accomplished Kathak dancer, she is also the Artistic Director of Krshálá Dance Theater in Bangalore.

A dedicated Kathak dancer, Simran has trained in Kathak with Shri Murari Sharan Gupta, one of the leading disciples of legendary Kathak maestro Padma Vibhushan Pt. Birju Maharaj based in Bangalore. She also holds a Sangeet Prabhakar Degree in Kathak Dance from Prayag Sangeet Samiti.

Her dance showcases subtle Abhinaya, intense expertise of footwork and unique artistry through Thumri, Ghazal, Geet and Technical Layakaris.

Simran is known for her creativity and the ability to push boundaries. She has given numerous performances on stage & television and has students all across the world; USA, France and Dubai.

And, not once has she regretted quitting her high paying HR Job.

Kathak and its relevance

Kathak is traditionally attributed to the nomadic poets of ancient North India, known as Kathakars or storytellers. And, the word Kathak is born out of the Sanskrit word Katha (story). These wandering Kathakars communicated the stories of the great epics and ancient mythology through dance, songs, and music. Though popular, Kathak came into its own during the Bhakti Movement. And, soon a number of stories pertaining to the childhood of Lord Krishna were incorporated.

However, in spite of its basic explanation, Kathak as an art form cannot be described. Describing it merely in words is akin to belittling it. The sound of the ghungroos, the flare of the Anarkali, the beats of the table as consistent as the sound of the rainfall, the stories relayed through the dance movements all come together to form the experience that is Kathak.

Performing it in front of a thousand people itself is a great feeling, but it is the pain in the feet and the marks of ghungroos that stay back long after the spot lights have dimmed that reminds one of how kathak manages elevate a person to a different and more spiritual plane.

The Krshálá Journey

Krshala is the amalgamation of two Sanskrit words; Kr which means kriya (movement) and shala which means space. Krshala, therefore, is a space for movement, to understand and explore the connection between one’s mind and body through the medium of dance.

Krshala came into being in 2006. It was a dream that was tucked away somewhere in the spaces of Simran’s subconscious mind. And, when it got a nudge from one of the greatest living legends and proponents of Kathak, Pandit Birju Maharaj, there was no going back.

A few years ago, at a concert, Simran was introduced to Pandit Birju Maharaj (whom she fondly calls Maharaj ji) by her Guruji. And, after looking at her, Maharaj Ji said she should continue dancing. Simran then decided to leave everything else and concentrate on dancing. She started spending about eight to nine hours practicing the dance form with her Guruji. Soon, she started her own dance school, Krshala.

Krshala’s first class was held at Simran’s home, with four, little, enthusiastic kids. It has been more than 10 years now, and Krshala, thanks to the amazing support it has received, has gone on to become much bigger than what Simran would have ever imagined. The journey wouldn’t have been possible without the unfettered encouragement and support of her Guru, and her students’ parents. But her biggest gratitude remains for her students, whose tiny dance movements are the very
heartbeat of Krshala.

The Lucknow Gharana

The High-intensity dance is found in three distinct forms named after the cities where the tradition of Kathak evolved: Jaipur, Banaras, and Lucknow.

At Krshala we teach the Lucknow Gharana of the dance form. The Lucknow Gharana puts more emphasis than other Gharanas on acting out the stories through dance. This Gharana that thrived after the collapse of the Mughal era, is probably one of the more secular dance forms. After the collapse, the Kathak artists moved to Lucknow, under the patronage of the Awadi Nawabs.

Therefore, one can see both Hindus and Islamic influences in the Lucknow Gharana. Some of the stalwarts of this Gharana include the great Pandit Birju Maharaj, Shambu Maharaj, and Lacchu Maharaj.