Sri Shakti Academy primarily focuses on the Benares Gharana of Kathak founded by the great sanskrit scholar Pt. Jankiprasad.
The style of this gharana is quite unique and has maintained its traditional and religious aspect even through Moghul ages, as the dancers of this school were mostly employed in the courts of Hindu Kings of Bikaner, Patiala etc . The gharana is known for its exclusive use of "Natwari bols" (dance syllables) rather than the Tabla and Pakhawaj syllables in thier compositions. Pandit Jankiprasad's choreography uses beautiful lyrical movements and his abhinaya compositions imbibe the philosophy of Hindu thought and symbolism through Bhajans, Padas, Kavittas. The dancers of this school emphasize both the Nritta ( pure decorative dance ) and Nritya ( Abhinaya ) – showing technical virtuosity as well as subtle Abhinaya. The different types of "gatis" or gaits and the extensive use of "edi tatkar" ( heel footwork ) are a speciality of this Gharana.
Pt. Hazarilal was an artist par excellence who was trained by Nritya Samrat Guru Ustad Ashfaq Hussainji of the Jankiprasad Gharana of Benares. In Mumbai, he established Natwari, an organisation dedicated to the preservation and perpetration of Kathak and named the institute after the famous Natwari bols composed by Pt. Jankiprasad which are distinct from those used by other schools of Kathak. Guruji was the head of Kathak section at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan and had numerous disciples in Mumbai and abroad.
Padmashree Sunayana Hazarilal
Padmashree Sunayna Hazarilal is the only surviving performer of Benares Gharana of Kathak founded by Pt. Jankiprasadji. An honours graduate from Poona university, she devoted her life to the revival of Benares Gharana's unique and rare style. She learnt Kathak from Late Guru Pt. Hazarilalji. She has presented her performances all over the world in U.S., Europe and Latin America. She has won many awards including Padmashree (2011) from the Govt. of India, Sangeet Natak Academy Award (2003) and Maharashtra Gaurav Award (2004). A Director of Natwari School and Head of the Kathak department of Sangeet Nartan Shikshapeeth, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, she conducts regular international workshops in New York, San Francisco and Raleigh.
Smt. Neesha Jhaveri has received extensive training in Kathak from Pt. Hazarilalji and Smt. Sunayana Hazarilalji and completed her Nritya Visharad at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Sangeet and Nartan Shikshapeeth, Bombay. A recipient of National Scholarship from the Indian Govt., she has a number of solo dance recitals to her credit including performances at the “Pallavotsava”, Mysore and Kathak Mahotsav (2000). She was sent to perform in 8 West African countries by the ICCR on the 50th anniversary of India's independence and, toured U.S.A. performing Kathak in the ballet named "Punyatirtha Bharat". She has worked as a teacher at her alma mater and "Natwari" institute, and at present teaches many students at Sri Shakti Academy HK of which she is one of the founder members.