Kathak dancer Arti Shanker, who moved from Delhi to Hyderabad, established Nritya Kunj in 2011. Since the last 10 years, she has been teaching the North Indian art form to students in the city and via online across the globe. Arti was so much bowled over by the performance of Pandit Sri Rajendra Gangani ji, that she decided to train under him. Speaking to Natyahasini, she reveals that after watching Pandit Sri Rajendra Gangani ji perform, she decided that she had to enrol under him. “I had only one dream and GOD listened to my wish. I went to Delhi from Jaipur and joined Kathak Kendra in the year 1999 and ever since I have been pursuing Kathak as a student and then as a performer and a teacher,” she says.
The dancer says that she never thought of learning any other art form except Kathak. Arti, who has learnt the Jaipur gharana, says that if at all she had an option to choose an art form, then she would pursue classical singing as it is an addition to dance.
On moving from Delhi to Hyderabad, Arti says that except the place change, there is no change in the Art form. “Initially, I had to struggle a bit in Hyderabad, but now the city has accepted me and I am able to do my bit to spread Kathak in Hyderabad. I feel very good teaching in Hyderabad as it is a beehive of culture and tradition,” the Kathak dancer says.
The Nritya Kunj founder says that in her academy there are all kind of students – Telugu, Marathi, Punjabi, Bengali and lot of others from various states. Arti teaches students for certifications also. She explains that before the pandemic she was not taking online classes. “With the pandemic, the world has become a smaller place and I have started taking students from abroad and online classes have been a blessing for me and also the students,” she says.
Even after leaving Delhi, Arti has the support of her Guru, Pandit Rajendra Gangani ji. She says that when she wanted to conduct a workshop by her Guru in Hyderabad, she was short of funds and had expressed this to him. He immediately told her to inform the dates and he would be there. “Whenever I have called Guru ji to Hyderabad, he has always accommodated his time for me and my students and thus I have learnt that a real guru never leaves his/her students,” she says.
On her future plans, Arti says that she takes life as it comes. “That way you will be able to accomplish more in life I guess,” she says, before signing off.