Prajakta Atre, as an artiste - PRAJAKTA RAJ, is a Kathak dancer, teacher and choreographer based in Pune, working in the field for 41 years. She is a senior disciple of the Kathak legend Guru Rohini Bhate and Guru Roshan Datye.
Prajakta was trained for 14 years by Guru Roshan Datye. She then received advanced training from Guru Rohini Bhate from 1996 to 2008 at Nrityabharati Kathak Dance Academy. She is presently taking guidance from Dr. Arawind Thatte about the nuances and intricacies of ‘Taal’ and ‘Laya’.
Prajakta obtained a Master’s Degree in Kathak from Lalit Kala Kendra, the Centre for Performing Arts, Pune University, where she is presently working as Guru and Examiner.
She is an artiste empanelled with the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR).
For 61 years, the late Guru Rohini Bhate had focused her energies on teaching and performing Kathak. Groomed in the art by her Gurus the late Pt. Lacchu Maharaj and Pt. Mohanrao Kallianpurkar, she evolved a unique and rich style all her own. In her various roles as writer, translator, orator, theoretician, teacher, and dancer, Guru Rohini Bhate embodied a harmonious blend of high classicism and contemporary expression… a synergistic celebration of the performing arts.
Years of dedicated training, an acute vision for creative expression, grace and abhinaya in balance measure, dancer, choreographer, guru and art-historian, Roshan Datye has emerged as a major contributor to Kathak in India. One of the senior-most disciples of Guru Rohini Bhate, she is the Founder-Director of Rochit Kathak Academy, a branch of Nrityabharati established in 1980. She has performed at major festivals all over India and abroad. She was awarded a fellowship by the Ministry of Culture, Govt. of India for her research on the interrelation between Kathak, ancient sculptures of North India and medieval age miniature paintings.
The legendary Guru Rohini Bhate dedicated six decades of her life to
creating and contributing to the art. Throughout her journey, she
nurtured and inspired thousands of lives around her. In 2006, she handed
over to Prajakta the responsibility of teaching at Nrityabharati and
taking her work ahead. Ever since, Prajakta’s passion for the art has
turned into the mission of her life. She has been imparting authentic
training in Rohiniji’s style, performing her compositions, documenting
her masterpieces, grooming students into seasoned performers and
consistently creating a variety of her own dance compositions. Devotedly
and selflessly teaching at Nrityabharati for 16 years now, and donating
all the fees earned, back to the mother institute, is, for Prajakta, a
humble gesture of respect for the art, gratitude to her guru and an
attempt to give back to society.
Two important goals that Prajakta has been striving to achieve are: Creating a niche audience for Indian classical dance and honouring the work of eminent artistes representing different dance forms. Under the auspices of ‘Aarohini’, Prajakta has been regularly organising classical dance festivals, ‘Enrichment Sessions’/symposiums and workshops in Pune. Among the guest artistes invited until today were Sujata Mohapatra, Vaibhav Arekar, Rajendra Gangani, Vishal Krishna, Parvati Dutta, Subhash Chandra, Kathak troupes of Pune’s very own Guru Rohini Bhate, Roshan Datye, Shama Bhate, Maneesha Sathe and many more representatives of the younger generation working in the field for more than 25 years. It is a matter of pride that inspite of having no sponsors, each of these grand festivals turned out to be a great success, thanks to the generous donations and support from Aarohini’s niche audience!
Unlike most accomplished performers, Prajakta is also a very dedicated and passionate teacher. For more than 30 years, she has been taking those extra efforts in passing on to future generations the authentic, rich heritage of Kathak. Prajakta has used her vast experience to develop her own techniques in conveying to students the intricacies of the art form. She specialises in the detailing of both ‘Nritta’ (technical aspect) and ‘Nritya’(abhinaya/expression). She has trained hundreds of students at Nrityabharati and Aarohini, including many economically challenged ones who are taught entirely free of charge under the ‘Deserving Candidate Scholarship’ program. Her students have been trained into fine professional dancers, some of whom have performed in India as well as in USA, England, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Some have also been awarded the CCRT Junior and Senior Scholarships. In the years 2020 and 2022, her students have earned the coveted Gold Medal at the Master’s Degree in Kathak at Pune University, out of which, one is a ‘Deserving Candidate Scholarship’ holder, learning under Prajakta’s guidance for the last 10 years.
Since 2004, every alternate year, Prajakta has been creating her own compositions/productions in the traditional as well as thematic format, of duration 60 to 90 minutes each: Paalavi -2004, Pranati -2006, Anunay -2008, Ritu Chakra -2010, Kathak Kathaa -2012, Mohani Moorat -2014, Sanchit-Srujan -2015, Anvat -2016, Roupyapoorti -2017, Sankhya Sanket -2019, Pratidhwani -2022. These include compositions in:
The World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, ‘Sangam’, organises events in 'Sangam', Pune, for guests from various countries all over the world. Sangam regularly invites Prajakta to perform Kathak in the form of lecture-demonstrations for the foreign guests to easily understand and appreciate the art form. Through these sessions, the guests are introduced to Indian culture and traditions. Over a span of several years, Prajakta has performed more than 60 times at ‘Sangam’, a number that speaks volumes about how well her presentations are appreciated! She further did 2 dance tours in the UK, one in 2004 for ‘Friends of Sangam’ and another in 2011 for the ‘Trefoil Guild’.
L’Association Encontro and Entr’Inde are 2 organisations in 2 different regions of France, which hosted Prajakta along with 15 of her young students for a month in 2010. The troupe performed at auditoriums, schools, colleges, homes for the differently abled and old-age homes in 19 small towns and far-off villages. Through their Kathak presentation, which had its narration written by Prajakta in French language, the troupe portrayed Indian culture, traditions, seasons and festivals. This was followed by interactions with the curious audiences and workshops for people to try their hands on Kathak. The group interacted with more than 20 organisations and more than 2000 persons in only 23 days. ‘Encontro’ wrote in appreciation, “The fact that Prajakta spoke French fluently enabled a true exchange with our people, who found answers to all their questions.”