The Guru-ba keeping the Nepali dance alive

This old man going by the name of Dr Kumar Prasad Darshan is probably the only man in Nepal to have a doctorate in dance. He was given scholarship to study dance in Mumbai in the year 1959 by the late king Mahendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev. Once he had been mentioned as the dance teacher of the late king Dipendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev in a filmy magazine, which is not completely wrong as he had taught dance to the late King and his dance partner Devyani Rana in the same small house of his near the pote bazaar in Indra Chowk in the heart of Kathmandu where he still lives. A picture of the young prince in typical Nepali dress Daurasuruwal and topi with Devyani dressed in guniucholi in a typical Nepali group dance pose in his living room proves the point.

He has published more than half a dozen books on dance including six volumes title ‘Nepalese Classical Dance Education’ and one titled ‘Nepalese Classical and Folk Dance Collection’. He was also the Founder Chairman of the Nepal Kalakar Sangh and ran a dance academy for almost 15 years. Most of the dance directors of today’s Nepali movies like Radhey Shyam, Basant Shrestha and Narayan Devi Pradhan were once his students and yes, he is known as guru-ba (teacher-father) among his students. Although the dance academy is closed now, as he could no longer teach due to his old age, he is still involved in other dance related activities. He is writing a book on ‘Mahakali Dance’ one of the most important dance forms in Nepal and seeking for a publisher. He has dedicated his life and utilized his education in documenting and keeping alive the Nepali dance forms.

He does his researches and writings using his own money and is involved in researching the Magar and Gurung peoples’ dances. He also writes scripts, some of which have been made into documentaries that were broadcasted on Nepal Television. Some of them were based on myths surrounding the Pashupatinath Temple, Swayambhunath Maha Chaitya (three parts) and one on Bada Dashain.He had have the opportunity of learning the craft from the Indian film legends Raj Kapoor and Dev Anand during his nine years stay in Mumbai. He had also written a script called ‘Manakamana’, however his expertise has and will always be dance. He has a deep knowledge about both, the Nepali as well as the Indian dance forms. Putting lights on one of the most popular dance forms in Nepal, he said that the Lakhey dance is based on a long and intriguing myth about a demon who resided in a cave in the Nagarjuna forest that kidnapped kids from a playing field in Patan and ate them. He had received great response from the audience when he performed this dance in Japan.

He had specialized in the famous Indian Kathak dance during his study days and has published a book on the subject as well. Almost all of his books are full of sketches that give detail and also describe every shade of the eyes, every step and every hand gesture along with the hip and body movements. He also has a plan to release a CD filming out all the steps of Nepali folk dances, which he believes would be helpful for those who are interested in learning it. He has contributed his life and education in documenting one of the most integral parts of the Nepali culture and history, Nepali dances, in the form of books and later in CDs. Guruba definitely is the one who deserves a salute and applause not only from dance lovers but all of us Nepalese for making the Nepali dance forms immortal and keeping it alive in form of books.