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Sanjeev Kumar, native son of Sainth in Jammu's Akhnoor District, and a graduate of Jammu University, Sri Ram Bhartiya Kala Kendra and from Kathak Kendra, New Delhi, has completed another successful series of solo performances of classical Kathak Dance. He presented fifteen performances in Finland and the United States to enthusiastic audiences, and won sustained, popular and critical acclaim wherever he performed. He fulfilled the high praise given him in his prior performances in Argentina where a leading critic termed him "A New Prince of the Dance."

The tour in Finland, mainly organized by the well-known Finnish director and writer Vesa Tapio Valo had its peak performance at the famous "Kaustinen Dance Festival" where Sanjeev was the head attraction. There he performed along with Finland's most famous dancer, Jorma Uotinen,who expressed his deeply felt admiration for Sanjeev's artistic work. Jorma Uotinen as well as the the audience paid tributes to Sanjeev's mastery of the intensely demanding requirements and complex technical aspects of Kathak choreography. Sanjeev's excellent performance at the Kaustinen Festival led to invitations for Sanjeev to return to Finland to participate in another major cultural festival in the future.

In the United States, Sanjeev gave a series of eleven performances which allowed him the opportunity to display both the devotional and the virtuoso dimensions of classical Kathak to a wide range of audiences in New York and New England. His programs were received with overwhelming enthusiasm and admiration.

At the Armstrong Auditorium in North Berwick, Maine, students from Noble Regional School and members of the North Berwick Historical Society after Sanjeev's two performances declared that they wished to undertake studies in Kathak for themselves. Similarly, at Salem State College in Massachusetts, a number of his audience members were eager to speak to him to discuss how they might learn Kathak. They were delighted to have Sanjeev offer an informal lecture demonstration following his performance.

In New York City, Sanjeev presented Kathak at the prestigious Columbia University and at the performance center on Central Park West sponsored under the auspices of the International Association for Religious Freedom. These recitals drew audiences which were more familiar with Indian classical dance than those in northern New England. Utilizing the various spaces with consummate artistry Sanjeev left his audiences with a deep appreciation for his mastery. He gave eloquent expression to the deep religious roots of classical Kathak. Members of the audience reported that they were moved by the grace and beauty of these traditional dances.

It was, however, the brilliant effect of technical complexity with passionate intensity in Sanjeev's extended dance that brought the audience to their feet on more than one occasion. Here Sanjeev fulfills the demands of classical Kathak choreography while incorporating his original improvisational elements to create a unique and impressive presentation. As in Finland, Sanjeev received invitations to return to New York City for future performances.

Returning from New York to Boston, Sanjeev gave a series of much appreciated performances. At Tufts University he appeared under the auspices of the South East Asian Student Organization and the Tufts Department of Comparative Religion. Outside Boston Sanjeev performed in Rockport, Reading, and Dorchester thus introducing Kathak to a variety of audiences. In Waltham he was the featured performer at a Cultural Festival of the New England Cultural Center of SGI-USA. The theme of the Festival was peace-making and non-violence which was appropriate for Sanjeev who teaches at the Gandhi Smriti in New Delhi.

After this series of impressive performances in Finland, New York, and New England it was clear that Sanjeev continues to fulfill the tribute given to him by the Indian Ambassador to Argentina, Sri Rinzing Wagdi, who commended him as "a true cultural ambassador" for India.

The citizens of Jammu can well be proud of their native son !!


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