|Snippets of Information |
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
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
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
* 11 Mar 2022
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
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.