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Saturday, 24th February 2024



I was recently (July 2010)  invited to attend the unique graduation of one of the UK's finest young artistes of Kathak Indian classical dance - Janaki Mehta (aged 22). Here is a girl born and raised in Britain, living in Croydon (South London), and yet at a very young age, she has developed such a love for this traditional dance form, and mastered it with such finesse, that I felt the event was a huge personal and social achievement. Trained at the Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan in London by reknowned Maestro Abhay Shankar Mishra, she performed a variety of dances to show her prowess and allow the Guru to test her skills.

Kathak comes from the word Katha which means story. The dance is an expression of traditional stories, and involves fast footwork and pirouettes. It is a hybrid of Indian and Persian culture, and accompanied by Hindustani Classical Music.

Janaki recently graduated as a lawyer - so not only has she succeeded in Art, she has also succeeded in her academic studies. This is quite a feat, and shows how hugely creative and intelligent many of this new generation of young Indians are in Britain. They are able to effortlessly traverse different cultures, and yet have a sense of inner balance and identity. These are the leaders that Britain needs to encourage and support for a better future, as they have unique visions, a deep sense of pluralism and respect, and an ability to balance reason with creativity, and to build peaceful relationships in the hear and now. As a society, we should feel much more hopeful about our common future.

To watch the dance and listen to the live music, one cannot help but get entranced about the richness of Indian art, and its unique blend of nature, rhythm, narrative and form. Religion (Dharma) simply cannot be excluded from the experience - such dance elevates the spirit, and helps us to develop a love of God in all its forms. The message here is also very profound - even for non-believers, there is no need to exclude religion from their artistic and social experiences - as dharma has played such a huge influence on human heritage and history.

Janaki Mehta is based in London and can be contacted via email

Words: Atul Shah, Diverse Ethics

Article added on 26th July 2010 at 3:45pm
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