Padmashri Guru Pratap Pawar
Padmashri Guru Pratap Pawar is an internationally renowned dancer, choreographer and teacher, and one of the world’s greatest proponents of the Kathak form. He is the first disciple of the legendary Pandit Birju Maharaj.
His own disciples include Balbir Singh as well as Asavari Pawar, Akram Khan, Riaz Rhemtulla, Sandra La Espuelita, Sheela Kakkad and many others.
Known as ‘India’s Divine Dancer’ Padmashri Guru Pratap Pawar is both a master of classical Indian dance and natural storyteller, who beguiles audiences with his entertaining and accessible presentations of Kathak in its purest form.
Padmashri Pratap Pawar has performed to countless audiences throughout the world in a distinguished career that has spanned six decades and as many continents. He continues to perform internationally today.
Balbir Singh was born in the Punjab and came with his parents to England as a child, growing up in Bradford, West Yorkshire.
Moving to Leeds to study at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance, Balbir was trained in the Western contemporary canon. It was only after leaving NSCD that Balbir encountered traditional Indian dance forms when he met and later became a disciple of Kathak guru Padmashri Pratap Pawar.
Balbir found he had a natural affinity for Kathak’s rhythmic structures. His childhood fascination with pattern, number and all things mathematical had stayed with him, and Balbir was attracted by the mathematical complexity, shapes and patterns of Kathak.
Under the guidance of ‘India’s Divine Dancer’, Balbir became an accomplished choreographer of cross cultural dance forms capable of synthesising diverse styles and narratives.
Balbir’s twin interests in contemporary dance and Kathak and his desire to find a common language underpinning both, has led him to exciting new artistic territory through his company Balbir Singh Dance Company. An Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation, BSDC continues to expand the boundaries and audiences for dance.
Sunil Sunkara is a Scientist, Chemical Engineer, Founder and volunteer to many cultural initiatives and most importantly a Professional Kathak Dancer. He has performed in various shows across India and abroad and been an active promoter of Indian art across the world.
Sunkara has been successful in combining the intricacies of the arts with the knowledge of science. He is an artistic scientist who has the best of both worlds.
Around December 2014 he performed in the art of living Ashram for Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Ji. After the performance he spoke with Guruji, and told him about his research and what I have done in science. He said all that is good but you should do Kathak, I would like you to perform and we should create groups. Sunkara saw him perform and he experienced the way Shankar Ji brought Krishna alive on stage. That was when he thought that this was something that could be a spiritual journey also. He then started learning with a little more seriousness, started following people online and seeing more videos. Instead of simply coming to class, he started thinking more deeply about performance. The rest was history.