Gopi Krishna

Gopi Krishna today is one of the most outstanding exponents of the Banaras Gharana of Kathak. His performances are marked by individualistic interpretation, showmanship uncanny tempo and imaginative temperament. Born at Calcutta, on August 22, 1934, Gopi Krishna was brought up by his maternal grandfather, the late Pandit Sukndev Maharaj, who was a noted maestro of the particular Banaras Gharana of Kathak style of dance. Gopi was the son of Tara, a noted singer and eldest daughter of Sukhdev Maharaj. He had his early schooling in Bombay.

Although he started dancing naturally from the age of four, the training began under his maternal grandfather in
Calcutta at the age of 11. Panditji was not only his mentor but also his guiding spirit. Gopi Krishna's training under the great master therefore meant strict discipline and arduous practice for seven to eight hours a day. He also took training from Shambhu Maharaj, and does not believe blindly following any tradition,

Gopi Krishna also learnt Bharat Natyam from Guru Mahalingam Pillai and Govind Raj Pillai from the school of Sri Raj Rajeshwari Bharat Natya Kala Mandir. His main interest is in the use of classical dancing in Indian films. His first film success came with “Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baje”, a full length film by V. Shantaram. Gopi Krishna was only 17 then, but his role in the celebrated film gave to classical dancing a new status and new dimension. The film was a landmark in the history of India's dancing and cinema, for it showed how classical dancing when properly used by film makers, would yield rich dividends. The film brought him fame all over the country. At 32, was the recipient of many distinctions and honors. He was awarded the titles of Natraj at the age of 15 at All-Bengal Music Conference, and in 1966 the Prayag Sangit Samiti Allahabad, honored him with the distinction of Nritya Samra.

He toured East Africa and Western countries. He has been directing dances for the films, besides his own performances in them. His dance direction carries a unique, individualistic touch. Equally significant is his contribution in the field of choreography. He has composed a number of solo dance ballets. He is first to divide the continuous Kathak style repertoire into distinctive items, which practice is now followed by other exponents of Kathak.

He gives a brilliant demonstration of the same rhythm in three percussion instruments, namely, Tabla, Pakhawaj and Chanda.