Shilpa, the founder and teacher of Taal Academy, has been trained for over 25 years in Kathak dance.
Shilpa completed her Kathak Alankar (Master's degree in Kathak) from Akhil Bharitiya Gandharva Mahavidyalaya, Mumbai in 2012. Although a Biomedical Engineer from the University of Mumbai, Shilpa decided to establish the Taal Academy in 2002 to nurture her passion and love for Kathak Dance and spread it among the people that value the rich culture & heritage of this classical dance form.
She has received training under the guidance of Guru Shri Gopikrishnaji, one of the most outstanding exponents of the Banaras Gharana of Kathak. She has received training in the Lucknow Gharana style under the guidance of Rama Didi (Wife of Pandit Lachu Maharaj) which emphasizes grace, elegance and naturalness of Kathak. Shilpa has been lucky to be handed down several unique Styles of Toda-Tukdas from her Gurus in the “Guru-Shishya” tradition, which gives her a unique opportunity to experiment with the classical dance form to create her own unique styles.
Shilpa has given several solo dance performances on stage and also taken part in various dance presentations along with her guru for the past 25 years She has choreographed some beautiful “Dance Drama’s” for herself and her students. To name a few, Dashaavaatar, RituChakra -Cycle Of Seasons, Navagraha and Utkranti-Evolution of Kathak, Dance Dreams. Every year Shilpa organizes an annual event for the Academy, to show case the talents of her students.
Pandit GopiKrishnaji was born in Calcutta on August 22, 1934. He was the grandson of noted Kathak maestro Pandit Sukhdeo Mishra. Pandit Sukhdeoji used to perform Kathak in the Nepal Darbar. Gopiji’s mother Taradevi was also a noted singer.
Gopiji began his training under his grandfather Pandit Sukhdeo in Calcutta. He later took training under Achan Maharaji and Shambhu Maharaj. Gopiji also learnt Bharatnatyam from Guru Mahalingam Pillai and Guru Govind Raj Pillai. In 1955, he choreographed and acted in the movie Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baje. The film brought him immense fame and popularity. On July 21, 1969, the day when first man landed on moon, Gopiji made yet another world record of dancing Kathak for 9 hrs-10 minutes without stopping. He promptly enacted the landing on moon in his performance.
Gopiji was awarded the title Nartraj at the age of 13 at the All Bengal conference. He was also awarded the titles like Padmashree and Nritya samrat.
Smt. Rama Didi
Born in 1924, Rama Didi received Kathak training under the guidance of her husband Pt. Lachhu Maharaji who came from a family of illustrious Kathak exponents in Lucknow. She worked with Pt. Lachhu Maharaji as an Assistant Choreographer for various Hindi movies like Moghal-E-Azam, Razia Sultan, Muze Jeene Do, Kala Pani, etc.
Along with Pt. Gopi Krishna she choreographed Shakuntal, Akbar-E-Azam, and Amrapali. An eminent Kathak teacher and choreographer.
Shambhavi Dandekar had her training in Kathak dance from her mother, a renowned Kathak Guru Mrs. Maneesha Sathe. She also has extensive training in Laya- Taal and it’s aesthetics from none other than Taalyogi Pandit Suresh Talwalkar. She is trained in Hindustani vocal music by Guru Mrs. Mangala Vaidya.
Shambhavi is a faculty and Guru in the Center for Performing Arts , University of Pune. She runs a Branch of Maneesha Nrityalaya Kathak Dance Institute for the past 14 years, where she is adroitly training the young generation and grooming them to become the artists of tomorrow. Maneesha Nrityalaya was founded by her mother and Guru Mrs. Maneesha Sathe in 1975. A recipient of National Scholarship for Dance by Ministry of Human Resources, Shambhavi has been honored with the ‘ Singaar Mani’ award. Her choreographic works presented in various stage shows and on the television have brought her a unique recognition as a choreographer.