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Rohini Bhate, Sadhika of Kathak

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Rohini Bhate was born on November 14, 1924 at Patana(Bihar). She was the leading Kathak dancer in Bharat. She was among the senior most Kathak exponents of the country and a Fellow of Sangeet Natak Akademi.

Rohini came from a middle-class Karhade Brahmin family. She was initially trained in Bharatanatyam under Guru Parvati Kumar. Later she specialised in Kathak under the guidance of Pandit Lacchu Maharaj and Pandit Mohan Rao Kallianpurkar. As a teenager, she was very confused regarding which vocation to choose. She took to practicing Kathak and things fell in place from then on in her life. She was instantly very focused with the profession. There were no formal dance schools in Pune those days. Her primary lessons helped her to develop an interest in dancing, during that point of time her mother helped her a great deal too.

Rohini Bhate was a leading dancer, teacher and excellence in Kathak. She started her career in dancing at the age of 28. She performed for more than six decades and was held in high respect by colleagues and critics alike. She had also learnt Hindustani classical singing and was well versed with literature. She learnt under Keshavrao Bhole and Vasantrao Deshpande. She often composed the music for her dance creations. She has focused her energies on teaching and performing this dance form. Groomed in the art by her Guru, she has evolved a unique and rich style of her own.

Rohini Bhate founded the Nrityabharati Kathak Dance Academy at Pune in 1947. Over the last six decades she trained hundred of dancers from her academy. Rohini Bhate’s numerous papers on Kathak have revealed her erudition, and her practical contributions to various Kathak curricula are sought after at different universities. Rohini always sought a more comprehensive use of the basic tenets of the Kathak dance style. The academy is its head office in Pune’s Shivaji Nagar, seven branches in the Pune city, and one in Indore and Germany. Some of the students include Roshan, Neelima, Amala, Jayashree, Aditi, Prajakta, Sharvari, Rujuta, Maneesha, Aabha, Sujata, Roopali, Leena, Ojasi, Manasi, Varsha, Rasika,Swati,Rasika, Mugdha,Priya, Ritika, Abha, Neha, Radhika, Mugdha, Lara, Apurva, Nata ha and Sai.

Rohini was also something of a poet. She coined the famous phrase: “Dance does not signify mere pleasure – nor is it just fascinating physical activity. It awakens the soul and arouses a sense of elation – rarely experienced otherwise. What is Dance then – if not a prayer?”

She authored several books in Marathi, including her autobiography, “Majhi Nrityasadhana”, a translation of the autobiography of Isadora Duncan, “Mi Isadora”, and an edited version of the Sanskrit manual Abhinaya Darpana called “Kathak Darpana Deepika”. She had served on the committee of Khairagarh University and guided the preparation of syllabi for Kathak courses at Lalit Kala Kendra, University of Pune, where she served as Visiting Lecturer and Guru. Rohini Bhate also performed in the role of writer, translator, orator, theoretician, teacher and dancer.

Bhate died on October 10, 2008 at the age of 83, in Pune, (Maharashtra). Rohini Bhate has won many awards.


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