Date of Birth : Feb 4, 1937
Place of Birth : India
Pandit Birju Maharaj, internationally renowned Kathak dancer, was born on 4th February 1937 in an illustrious family of dance masters of the Lucknow gharana. Birju gave Kathak Dance a new dimension by developing his own unique style and popularised this classical dance of North India all over the world. Birju alias Brij Mohan Nath Mishra mastered Kathak from his father, Achchan Maharaj and later from his uncles Shri Lacchu Maharaj and Shri Shambhu Maharaj. He gave his first performance at the young age of seven at Lucknow and since then there was no looking back. Gradually the talents of this genius spread to other areas. Apart from dancing, he has shown his talents as a superb musician, percussionist, composer, teacher, director, choreographer and a poet. He composed many dance dramas like ‘Gobardhan Leela’, ‘Makhan Chori’, ‘Malti-Madhav’, ‘Kumar Samvav’, ‘Phag Bahar’ etc. He also composed two classical dance sequence for Satyajit Ray’s film ‘Shatranj Ke Khiladi’. He has a special flair for playing percussion instruments like Tabla, Pakhawaj, Dholak, Naal and string instruments like Israj, Violin, Swar-Mandal, Sitar etc. He has performed in thousands of concerts in India and abroad. This great guru has imparted his immense knowledge and produced several renowned artists. He has taught in Sangeet Bharati, Bharatiya Kala Kendra and headed the teaching faculty Kathak Kendra in Delhi till he retired in 1998. His two talented sons Shri Jai Kishan and Deepak Maharaj are following the footsteps of their father. He still continues to impart training to a lot of budding dancers.
Birju Maharaj has won several honours and awards like the prestigious national award for the central ‘Sangeet Natak Academy’, the Indian Government’s highest civilian award ‘Padma Vibhushan’ in 1986, ‘Kalidas Samman’ by the Madhya Pradesh Government, ‘Soviet Land Nehru Award’, ‘SNA Award’, ‘Sangam Kala Award’ etc. He was also the recipient of two honorary doctorate degrees and the ‘Nehru Fellowship’. His talent, dedication, innovation, training, repertoire and performances have earned him the status of a living legend in India.