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Veteran mentor Guru Ganesh Hiralal Hasal
- Vijay Shankar

January 8, 2016

Guru Ganesh Hiralal Hasal

Seventy six year old Guru Ganesh Hiralal Hasal is one of the foremost and senior most exponents of the Jaipur Gharana of Kathak dance. He belongs to the seventh generation of classical dancers and musicians, whose contribution towards the propagation and enrichment towards the classical arts spans generations. Although his contribution is immense, he maintains a low profile as he feels that it is the art that has to speak for itself and the artist is only the representative of the art form. The veteran mentor talks about his experiences for more than six decades.

Guru Ganesh Hiralal Hasal follows the legacy and takes it forward to the ninth generation, as his granddaughter Vinodini rendered a vivacious Kathak performance at the ISKCON auditorium, recently. Incidentally, Gangaur and Shubada Sharma are professional Kathak dancers who are the granddaughters and disciples of Guru Ganesh, and their mother Dr. Poornima Sharma is the vice-principal of Lala Lajpat Rai College in Mumbai.

Guru Ganesh with son Dr. Vinod and granddaughter Vinodini

Ganesh received his initial training in Kathak from his father Acharyapad Hiralalji and his late brother Nritraj Hiralalji who was a famous dancer and teacher in Calcutta. While his father spent his lifetime in Delhi, Ganesh worked in Delhi, Calcutta and finally settled in Mumbai. After several performances both in India and abroad, Ganesh has been credited for training innumerable dancers, some of them top ranking dancers who have won national and international recognition, like Damayanti Joshi, Uma Sharma, Sandhya V Shantaram, Nandini Singh, Sudarshan Dheer, Akila and Sharmila Rao, Shaila Arora, Prachi Shah etc.

Guru Ganesh says, "Those were the days when the students and the teachers were devoted to dance. Nowadays the students are involved with so many activities, hence are not in a position to devote time completely to the dance form. But Kathak being a complex art form, there is no short cut as far as learning is concerned. A minimum seven to ten years is necessary to be qualified to become a professional dancer. The more you learn, the better you perform, as learning is a continuous process. Many students of mine have won awards but I do not crave for awards as I feel that the success of my students is the greatest award that I can aspire for." Nevertheless, Guru Ganesh has won Rang Ratan Award and the Maharashtra State Award.

The veteran mentor's legacy has already moved forward, as his son Dr. Vinod Hasal is an established exponent of Kathak and the first Indian to start his own dance academy in South Africa, known as the Radha Krishna Academy of Dance and Music. Vinod has performed for several dignitaries like Nelson Mandela, president Thabo Mbeki, president Jacob Zuma and others. Vinod has also won the prestigious Hind Ratan Award from the former president Dr. Abdul Kalam. Vinod's daughter Vinodini and son Shwetank Hasal form the ninth generation of dancers and musicians.

Drum Café is the most successful interactive drumming company with several performances to their credit both in India and abroad. It is a unique program of the percussion instrument, the drum. Every member in the audience is given a drum and the leader Vinod Hasal and his team of musicians guide the audience to play the drum together, creating a fine harmony with life and music and also unifying the audience together for peace and living harmoniously. Dr. Vnod Hasal and his wife Aliya are the owners of Drum Café in India and UAE. Vinod's brother Umesh is also a professional tabla player.

Vinod says, "My father's contribution is immense but he does not believe in any politics whatsoever, hence after a bitter experience in Mumbai at a dance competition I felt that I must try my luck overseas. I was thrilled to be invited to perform in South Africa by ISKCON centre and that practically changed my life. Today with Drum Cafe, I have integrated African drums and other forms of arts to make life and art a universal experience, transcending all barriers."

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