One of the most revered names in the field of Kathak, especially as a teacher, Ashimbandhu Bhattacharya comes from a culturally dynamic family. Beginning from the age of six, Ashimbandhu has been an active practitioner of the dance form for the last four decades. Proficient at both the Jaipur and Lucknow gharana, he has mastered his skills from luminaries like Pt. Ramgopal Misra, Guru Sushmita Misra, Pt. Vijay Shankar and also Pt. Birju Maharaj. In his prolonged journey from being a student, then a performer and ultimately a teacher and choreographer, Ashimbandhu has always been perceptive to observe the complexities and exquisiteness of the dance form, developing a deep understanding of the art as a whole. He believes that a continuous exploration for improvisation and innovation is needed for the dance form to thrive while at the same time the fundamental essence of the art form should be kept intact.
Ashimbandhu Bhattacharya talks about how despite practicing the Jaipur gharana for almost two decades he felt that he lacked a complete understanding of his own body and feelings, which he later found in the exquisite delicacy of the Lucknow gharana. He elucidates the basic concept of ‘Gharanas’ in Kathak, the long tradition that they are embedded with and also the geographical, socio-economic and political contexts of their very foundation. Although practitioners generally tend to associate themselves with certain gharanas, Bhattacharya feels it is rather irrelevant since present-day compositions usually gracefully combine the nuances and intricacies of all the gharanas. He also stresses how spiritualism has always been the fundamental component of Kathak and to learn it better a comprehensive knowledge of the Shastra is indispensable. From its close association with the theistic devotion of Bhakti Movement to the later Islamic influence of Mughal period, Bhattacharya illustrates how Kathak has always been imbued with the sense of spiritualism, irrespective of the religions. He has also emphasised that a cross-cultural communication is essential for the overall enrichment of our cultural heritage. Considering the rapid experimentations and innovations, Ashimbandhu Bhattacharya believes Kathak to be the most contemporary and popular dance form in India.
Ashimbandhu Bhattacharya believes that before engaging in Western popular dance forms, one must acquire a deep knowledge of the Indian classical dance that represents the rich cultural heritage that we are bestowed with. He explains how costumes in the traditional dance forms establish a sense of identification between the performer and the audience and thereby play a key role in the overall framework of the art form. He also observes that since the neatness of a presentation rests totally with the performer, the more careful s/he is with the accessories the better. Although he fosters no animosity towards dance reality shows, Bhattacharya notes that these publicity stunts, in the guise of entertainment and glamour, are actually manipulating our present generation. Furthermore he remarks how being overly detached with literature is actually affecting the general perception of this generation.
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