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Dance - Museums / Collections / Foundations

* 11 March 2022
Mohan Khokar Dance Collection
This rare collection of material on dance, gifted by Shri Mohan Khokar, contains over 40,000 black and white negatives, colour transparencies and rare photographs. In addition to over 4,000 monographs and journals in English and other Indian and European languages, the collection also includes albums of newspaper clippings, programmes, pamphlets, posters etc. from the early forties; field notes and dance notations on choreography made by Shri Khokar; and over 200 audio tapes, mainly of interviews with Gurus, artistes and scholars of dance. Special features of the collection are specimens of art objects with dance motifs, such as sculptures and figurines in bronze, wood, terracotta and other materials, textiles, paintings, etc, and also what may be termed ‘Bazar iconography,’ which refers to present day ugly or pathetically humorous dance figurines in plastic, clay, etc.

In his lifetime Prof. Mohan Khokar collected every book written on dance, every journal, prospectus, brochure, poster, postage stamp, rpm disc, doll, sculpture, including Chola bronzes, painting, textile, print, postcard – just about everything on dance.
Today, this material, called The Mohan Khokar Dance Collection, is the single largest holding on dance, comprising over 1,00,000 photos, 50,00,000 press clips, 5,000 books and more. Rare manuscripts, including a signed copy of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah’s Najjo and Banni; rare bronzes, including the only known Ardhanarishwara statue, paintings by Jamini Roy, Shaivax Chavda, K.K. Hebbar and personal correspondence with many legendary dancers and many more legendary names are part of this archive.
Also in the holding are recordings of all national giants and gurus, dancers and divas.
Mohan Khokar, a pioneering scholar & avid collector, a critic, connoisseur and historian made it his mission to collect everything he could on dance, its history and heritage.
Born in Quetta in Baluchistan (now in Pakistan) in 1924, this son of a military commissioner (Sardar Bhagat Ram Khokar) saw no dance until Ram Gopal, the Njinsky of India, came to Lahore to perform. (In his group was one nine-year-old dancing wonder, Baby Saroja, whom Mohan was to marry!) From then onwards, Mohan pursued both Ram Gopal and Bharatanatyam. He was the first North Indian man to enrol at Rukmini Devi Arundale’s Kalakshetra in Madras (Chennai). The year was 1940.
Mohan Khokar was only 24 years old when he was selected to head the just-born Department of Dance of the first university in India to offer Dance at the graduate level - M.S. University in Baroda, Gujarat. In 1950 and 1960 the university loaned him to the Union Education ministry in New Delhi to act as Special Officer for Dance. Later he served the Sangeet Natak Akademi for 18 years, the last five of them as its Secretary.
He did his best to nurture dance and dancers. Due to his enlightened patronage, a few rare forms, such as Kathak, Seraikella Chhau, Koodiyatam of Kerala and assorted folk traditions, survived. He ensured that children of traditional gurus got scholarships and employment so that they did not have to spurn dance as a profession. He did all this in the 1960s through the 1980s.
He also found the time and inclination to author over 5000 articles, edit and contribute significantly to journals like Marg, Pushpanjali, The Illustrated Weekly of India, Bhavan’s Journal, Surya magazine, The Hindustan Times, Sruti and attendance. He wrote seven definitive volumes on dance, which are all out of print, and many papers, like an UNESCO compilation on dance in 1974 and a discourse for the Cord Conference in 1976.

* 11 Mar 2022
Kalka-Bindadin ki Dyodhi and Kathak Museum
Kalka-Bindadin ki Dyodhi and Kathak Museum
90, Gwynne Road, Wazirganj, Lucknow
(open all days of the week. There is no entry fee for visitors)
In 2016, the government had converted Pt. Birju Maharaj’s ancestral home in Wazirganj, Lucknow into a Kathak Museum. Kalka-Bindadin ki Dyodhi, as the house is referred to, was the birthplace of Pt. Birju Maharaj, the doyen of Kathak. It showcases the personal belongings like clothes, accessories and books of Maharaj ji and his family who popularised the art of Kathak. The house was given to his ancestors by Nawab Wajid Ali Shah, a great patron of arts and culture of Oudh.
The entrance leads into a courtyard with a well, where a three-dimensional mural of dancers is painted on the walls. The main hall is lined with framed photographs of Birju Maharaj’s performances with maestros like Girija Devi. The busts of his uncles Shambhu Maharaj and Lachchhu Maharaj, and father Achchhan Maharaj are displayed. A kiosk also offers information about the family tree of Birju Maharaj. Among other notable items at the museum is a poshak (costume) that was worn by Maharaj Kalka Bindadin, Pt.Birju Maharaj’s old camera and his ghunghrus. The Kathak Museum has other memorabilia on display in the room of rest, kitchen and prayer room. 

* 6 Mar 2022
Bharata-Ilango Foundation for Asian Culture (BIFAC)
The Bharata-Ilango Foundation for Asian Culture (BIFAC) is located in Pattipulam village, Thiruporur Taluk in Kanchipuram District of Tamil Nadu which is 40kms from Chennai and 7kms from Mahabalipuram / Mammallapuram, East Coast Road (ECR).
The BharataMuni temple/shrine is dedicated to the founding father of Natyasastra. Below the temple is the Bharata Museum of Performing Arts. BIFAC complex and the Museum have culturally relevant artifacts, the Kanchi Mahaswami library, the TAG digital library, and the Abhinavagupta conference hall for conducting seminars and workshops. It also displays the 100 years of Indian Classical History.