Artist Spotlight July 2021

“Dance is devotion.”

– Dr. Mekhala Natavar

Dr. Mekhala Natavar ~ Kathak & Rajasthani Dance

This is the first in a three part series documenting a few aspects of the Jaipur Gharana tradition of the North Indian classical dance style Kathak. Originating in the desert villages in and around Churu district in northwest Rajasthan, India, Kathak knowledge has been passed down through the generations mostly in the male hereditary line of the Kathak caste of dancers and musicians. I made this documentary to shed light on how Kathak is traditionally transmitted from Guru to disciple. I learned from my Guru, Madan Maharaj, who learned from his maternal uncle Guru Kaneiya Lal Javda, who in turned learned from his own father Guru Shiv Lal ji, etc. In this video Guru Madan Maharaj is demonstrating Kavits in his home in Jodhpur and storytelling in a temple setting. This material is copyrighted. If you would like more information, please contact me directly.” – Mekhala Natavar Productions

A visual artist and professional dancer trained in modern, jazz, salsa, flamenco, bhangra, samba, and African, Dr. Mekhala Natavar is best known for her knowledge of Rajasthani and Kathak dance forms which she writes about in addition to performing and teaching.

Photos: North Carolina Central University 2001 (left); Gator ki chatri, Jaipur 1981 (right)


All photos courtesy Mekhala Natavar via her Dance Album @ Facebook: contact her directly if you are interested to learn more about or share any of her photos.

In 1975, she moved to India at the age of 19 and lived in Jaipur for over 16 years where she studied dance and art. Mekhala learned Kathak and performed in India (1978-84) with Jaipur Gharanadar Guru Madan Maharaj.

Photos: Gator ki chatri, Jaipur (left); Shish Mahal, Amber Fort (right)

Over the past 40 years she has conducted extensive ethnographic fieldwork on religious and secular performers, their performances and their lives in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, India. Her publications include articles on various performance genres in South Asia while her Ph.D. dissertation “New Dances, New Dancers, New Audiences Shifting Rhythms in the Evolution of India’s Kathak Dance” (University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1997) explores the effects of changing patterns of patronage on 20th century dance forms in North India and the lives of Kathak performers, teachers, and students. She is concerned with the relationship between spirituality, aesthetics and activism in the performing, literary and visual arts with a focus on India.

All photos courtesy Mekhala Natavar via her Dance Album @ Facebook: contact her directly if you are interested to learn more about or share any of her photos.

Dr. Mekhala Natavar has taught academic courses on Hindi, Indian Dance and Hindu Cosmology, Contemporary Cultures of South Asia, Expressions of South Asian Identity at Duke University (1998-2004) and Princeton University (2004-2012). She has also hosted many illustrious international artists for American university teaching residencies.

All photos courtesy Mekhala Natavar via her Dance Album @ Facebook: contact her directly if you are interested to learn more about or share any of her photos.

Connect with Mekhala Natavar Productions on YouTube and stay tuned for more videos!