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Indian Classical Dancers

Indian Classical Dancers

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Indian Classical Dancers

Indian classical dance has a distinct character that reflects the great cultural and traditional endeavor. The forms of Indian dance have transcended beyond the fences and socio-cultural hindrances. Exponents of the Indian classical dance believe that it has the caliber of creating a new and disciplined lifestyle. The Indian Classical Dance is often regarded as the form of worship and meditation. The performers of Indian Classical Dance, despite of the background and forms, have played a crucial role in presenting India to the forefront of the World stage. It has helped in ending the erstwhile artistic isolation. Here, in the following lines, we provide the profile and biography of those great artists who made the country proud.

Born: 1954 Contributions Mallika Sarabhai, a multifaceted personality, is a noted Kuchipudi and Bharatnatyam dancer. She has immensely contributed to the fields of acting, writing and publishing. She is a social activist and has participated in many socio-developmental projects initiated by the United Nations. Mallika Sarabhai has also received the "French Palme D'or'', the highest civilian award of France. Life Born to famous dancer Mrinalini Sarabhai and reputed space scientist Vikram Sarabhai, Mallika is a woman of many dimensions and talents. She is a noted dancer, film maker, TV anchor and social activist. Mallika Sarabhai, an alumnus of IIM Ahmedabad, was trained by R. Acharyelu in Kuchipudi. As a young dancer, Mallika won many international awards for her classical dance including the "French Palme D'or'', the highest civilian award of France. In 1977, she took over the reigns of Darpana, the arts academy founded by her parents. Theater and Dances Mallika Sarabhai's theatre works reflect the challenges of the society and sends a strong message. Her natural charm with conviction creates a unique style of presentation. Following are some of the works performed by her: Unheard Voices "Unheard Voices" is a physical, musical theatre piece. It is based on Harsh Mander's book "Unheard Voices". The story is about the lives of marginalized faces - the beggars, children at the Traffic Signal and "chhotu", the little child at roadside restaurant. These are stores of struggle and courage. India Then, Now, Forever: This revolves around the multiple lifestyle of the people of India. It attempts to show the resemblance between the life of the tribal of Mizoram and their lifestyles with the bollywood. The show takes the audience from the temples of southern India to the forests of the Dangs and the minds of today's creators.

Today. In 1979. Mallika Sarabhai took up many developmental projects including the "The Acting Healthy Project" (2008). "A Thousand Flowers" and "Katha". directed by renowned director Peter Brook. UNICEF Anandshala Project in 2005. communal hatred. Following are some of the acclaimed books published by Mallika Sarabahi and Mapin Publishing Private Limited. Some of her critically acclaimed films include "Lovesongs: Yesterday. corruption.Actor Mallika Sarabhai started her acting career at the age of fifteen and has worked in more than 30 films. In 1984. . The movie was launched in French and English. the environment. The project supported by ArtVenture took crucial learning on how to avoid maternal deaths and infant deaths amongst the very deprived communities. Publisher Mallika Sarabhai never tried to confine herself into a single character. Deeply excited by the possibility of continuing the work as an activist on TV. Peter Brook's "The Mahabharata". After being recognized as a reputed dancer and film actor. She also formed "JANAVAK". she founded the "Darpana for Development" concentrating on the development of performance as a language for change. In 1982. violence etc. she has also made herself count in the world of publications. to archive and preserve the folk and tribal culture of India. Tomorrow". she played the character of Draupadi in "The Mahabharata". she has also played an active role in the UNICEF Peer Educators Project. She has also produced over 2500 hours of broadcast programming in Gujarati dealing. the voice of the people. with social issues like gender bias. in 2001 she launched Darpana Communications. she had accused the BJP-led state government of supporting the genocide against the Muslims in Gujarat. called Inside Outside. she was criticized by the extreme right-wing political parties after she filed a Public Interest Litigation in the Supreme Court of India. Mallika Sarabhai published India's first design magazine. Besides. • • • • • • • • • • • • • India's Daughters Cultural Guide to Ahmedabad Spectacular India Jute Handlooms of India Sufism And Beyond Romance of Golconda Diamonds From Mustard Fields to Disco Lights Parvati: Goddess of Love Documenting Chandigarh Image & Imagination:5 Indian Artists Performing Arts of Kerala Understanding Kuchipudi (Co-Author) Krishna as Shrinathji: Miniature Paintings From Nathdwara Social Thinker In an effort to serve the society.2007 FATEHPURA Model village project and UNICEF Rural Health Project. Controversy In 2001. In the PIL. "Kahkasha".

He has also been awarded with the Kalidas Samman by the Government of Madhya Pradesh. Sanskrit. stagecraft etc. However. So. At the age of thirteen. with numerous trees and ponds would be extremely inspiring and would bring everyone close to the simple. he was invited to Delhi to teach at Sangeet Bharati. .Born: February 4. Dadra. Kalashram Kathak maestro Pandit Birju Maharaj had a dream of opening a dance-school and Kalashram is the realface of the dream. Kalashram. He is the only son and disciple of Shri Achhan Maharaj and is a familiar face of Indian Kathak dance all over the world. he mastered the different aspects of the Kathak and other Indian classical dance forms. He gave his first performance at the age of seven. popularly known as Achhan Maharaj. unassuming but rich heritage of the country. Birju also accompanied his father to the places where Achhan Maharaj had to go to perform. Birju Maharaj started learning dance forms at a very early stage. There. 1938 Contributions Birju Maharaj is a leading exponent and torch-bearer of the Kalka-Bindadin gharana of Lucknow. dramatics. Teaching Birju Maharaj. The natural atmosphere. taught in Sangeet Bharati. but also live as modest. He is a wonderful singer with a strong grip over. yoga. After his retirement from Kathak Kendra. He was the recipient of the Lata Mangeshkar Puraskaar. Bharatiya Kala Kendra and headed the teaching faculty Kathak Kendra (a unit of the Sangeet Natak Akademi) in Delhi. Jagannath Maharaj of Lucknow Gharana. Awards Pandit Birju Maharaj has won several honors and awards including the coveted Padma Vibhushan (1986). humble and disciplined members of today's society. as a result. Thumri. the family moved to Bombay. after the death of his father in 1947. In Kalashram. Pandit Birju Maharaj is not only a Kathak dancer but also a sensitive poet and captivating orator. and Khairagarh University. practice halls and amphitheatre of Kalarshram reflect a shade of rural setup in the busy and fast urban lifestyle. The objective of the institute is primarily to produce highly talented students who would not only prove worthy of the training they receive. used to spend much time in teaching young Birju. Lachhu Maharaj and Shambhu Maharaj also guided him in learning the Kathak dance. the fundamentals of Kathak. the master of Kathak. the students are trained in the field of Kathak. The classrooms. Bhajan and Ghazals. painting. His father. He has performed in almost all the countries of the globe. in 1998 Birju Maharaj started his own Kathak and Indian fine arts academy. Soviet Land Nehru Award. In 2002. and other associated disciplines like vocal and instrumental music. Life Birju Maharaj was born in the house of renowned Kathak proponent. His uncles. Pandit Birju Maharaj has also been conferred with the honorary Doctorate degrees from Banaras Hindu University. Sangam Kala Award.

February 1904 24. Arundale was also in-charge of the organization's paper. Dance Though she belonged to the upper-caste. Her father. All the members were deeply committed to the Theosophical society and as well as Kalakshetra. Rukmini Devi was also known for her efforts towards the protection of animal rights and their welfare. Anna Pavlova After her marriage. Ever since. Leelavati (Rukmini's niece) were among the first to join Kalakshetra. once offered by Morarji Desai. Life Rukmini Devi Arundale was born on February 29. Subramania Sastri. to Neelakanta Sastri and Seshammal. It was on Pavlova's request that Rukmini Devi learnt "ballet". Muthukumara Pillai and Karaikkal Saradambal Ammal joined the Kalakshetra as its teachers. Rukmini Devi and Dr George Arundale formed the Kalakshetra. After his retirement. Rukmini Devi gave her first performance at the Diamond Jubilee celebrations of the Theosophical Society in 1935. Her father's involvement in the Theosophical Society paved the way for Rukmini to come under the umbrella of Annie Besant's influence. The name was decided by Pandit S. 1904. Rukmini Devi met the legendary ballerina.Born: Passed February Away: 29. 1986 Contributions Rukmini Devi Arundale was a reputed dancer and choreographer of Bharatnatyam. an engineer with the Public Works Department. S. in 1917. considered as a low and vulgar art during that period. It is believed that Rukmini Devi had declined the chair of the President of India. Neelakanta Sastri shifted to Madras (now. She also acted as the Vice President of International Vegetarian Union for 31 years. Rukmini Devi was enthralled by the great artiste. Kalakshetra Within a year after her first performance at the Theosophical Society. Her charismatic personality and contribution to the renaissance of Indian Classical music attained her niche in the arena of Indian culture. She began to learn dance performances from Mylapore Gauri Ammal. Fascinated by Rukmini Devi's love for the mankind and humanity. The marriage created a huge uproar in the society. until her death in 1986. Vegetarianism Rukmini Devi was against the custom of killing and sacrificing of animals. she began to attend different performances of Pavlova's in Australia. Chennai). the then Prime Minister of India. They couldn't accept the fact that a Brahmin girl can marry outside the prevailing caste-system. He was an active member of the Theosophical Society. "New India". near the headquarters of Theosophical Society at Adyar. Radha. a Sanskrit scholar and member of the academy. Dr Arundale. She also convinced proficient Meenakshisundaram Pillai to come to Madras to teach her. The family built their house. . an Indian classical dance form. was a dedicated member of the Theosophical Society formed by Annie Besant. Anna Pavlova on a ship to Australia. in 1920. Rukmini Devi advocated the cause of Bharatnatyam. Many renowned dancers including Meenakshisundaram Pillai. married her with the approval and support of her family. Marriage Rukmini Devi first met Dr George Arundale. at an early stage. Sarada. especially the conservatives.

Delhi University. Besides. unknown and talented faces of the field. Shovana Narayan also organizes two festivals for providing a platform to the young. the narrative tradition of the North-Indian dance form in "Shakuntala". she . She created a new and innovative style of performing arts by enriching it with a deeper and wider canvas of expression and dimensions. Life Shovana Narayan established herself as a dancer during 1970s and the last four decades have seen her captivating audiences in numerous dance festivals.Awards In 1956. Shovana Narayan has also worked with many western dancers and musicians. Contributions Shovana Narayan is a Kathak Maestro and an outstanding dancer. Shovana Narayan was the first dancer to work on philosophical themes and on the lives of contemporary sages such as Vivekananda. former Austrian Ambassador to India. She is an incarnation of the great artistic and social traditions of India. received the "Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship". Delhi. Shovana Narayan is known for her strong urge for experimentation. She also featured in India Today's list of '100 People Who Shaped India'. Rukmini Devi was awarded the Padma Bhushan and in 1967. She is also the first dancer to have rejuvenated the soliloquy tradition. Some of her choreographic works like "Moonlight Impressionism" and "The Dawn After" have been successful in bringing out the true color of different dance and musical forms. She has set a unique trend by redefining dance and often considered as a living legend in the field of art. Some of her well-known books are: • • • • • • • "Indian Classical Dances" "Performing Arts in India: A Policy Perspective" "Indian Theatre and Dance Traditions" "Kathak: Rhythmic Echoes & Reflections" "The Dance Legacy of Patliputra" "Sterling Book of Indian Classical Dances" "Folk Dance Traditions of India" Awards Shovana Narayan has been conferred with numerous awards including the Padmashri Award for excellence and outstanding contribution to dance in 1992 and the Sangeet Natak Akademi award in 1999. She is married to Dr. Ramkrishna Paramhansa and Mahatma Gandhi. Trained by legendary Kathak maestro Pandit Birju Maharaj and Kundanlal Gangani at Kathak Kendra. Narayan is the first ever professional dancer who combines a full fledged career as a senior serving civil servant in the Government of India. Shovana Narayan is an alumnus of Miranda House. Ramana Maharshi. She has been awarded with Padmashri in 1992 and Sangeet Natak Academy Awards in 1999. Herbert Traxl. Author The noted Kathak dancer has written around ten books on the subject of dance.

'Natya Kala Ratna' from National Cultural Organisation. and Rotary International Award and Japan's Oisca Award. 'Singar Mani' from Haridas Sangeet Sammelan. dancers must have love for literature. For her contributions in the field of "Classical dancing" she has received accolades from many national and international organizations. Later. Sonal became the first Indian woman dancer to be awarded with Padma Vibhushan. Sonal aggrandized her dance by acquiring the different strands of Orissa culture.has also been awarded with Rajiv Gandhi Puraskar. Sonal Mansingh is a well-known choreographer. teacher. She is also the trustee of the largest institution in India. orator and a social activist. 'Sabras'. she learnt Odissi from Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra. dance is the medium through which she can present the views of the unheard. 'Draupati'. Centre for Indian Classical Dances In 1977. a freedom fighter. Indira Priyadarshini Samman. she has received several other honors for her contribution to dance. According to her. Learning Sonal Mansingh started learning fundamentals of Bharatnatyam from Guru Kumar Jayakar at the age of seven. languages. Awards Sonal Mansingh is the youngest recipient to receive the Padma Bhushan awarded by the President of India in 1992. Kuchipudi. poetry. Sonal has made much choreography on Indian mythology. In 1965. 'Mera Bharat'. 1944 Contributions Sonal Mansingh is an eminent Indian classical dancer and a leading exponent of Bharatnatyam. Manavatta'. in 1992. and Chhau. sculpture and painting as dance is a rare confluence of all these arts. the Indira Gandhi National Center for Arts. she learnt Bharatanatyam from Professor U S Krishna Rao and Chandrabhaga Devi at Bangalore. The organization has been working to promote performing arts and nurturing the cultural legacy of India. It includes the. which are currently in the repository of Odissi. Born: May 1. She was the youngest recipient of Padma Bhushan. Her renowned choreographic works include 'Indradhanush'. Her mother was a noted social activist and in 2002 awarded with Padma Bhushan. Besides being a dancer. 'Rajiv Gandhi Excellence Award'. a few of which are listed below. Life Sonal Mansingh was born to Arvind and Poornima Pakvasa on May 1. 'Devi Durga'. and one of the first five Governors of India. 1944 in Mumbai. (Honors) degree in German Literature from Elphinstone College. Besides. Sonal Mansingh believes that society and its happenings have an impact on all arts and subsequently on the artists. at the Pandanallur school in Bombay. Her grandfather was Mangal Das Pakvasa.A. In 2003. Her maiden professional performance was at Mumbai in 1964. She has B. 'Indira Priya Darshini Awards'. To her. She learnt almost all the dance numbers. 'Aatmayan'. Sonal Mansingh founded the Centre for Indian Classical Dances in New Delhi to train students in Indian classical dance. Bombay. Medals of .

Born: Passed December Away: 8. was best known for his fusion in Western and Eastern musical styles. He also knitted the two different techniques so beautifully that his art became hugely popular both in India and the West. Sonal becomes the first Indian woman dancer to receive this high honor. The school continues to teach an all-embracing performance curriculum that includes training in folk and classical dance. To develop his skills further. . Awards Uday Shankar was awarded with "Padma Vibhushan" by the Government of India and the Desikottama by the Visva-Bharati University. The government of India awarded Uday Shankar with the coveted "Padma Vibhushan. based on the stories of Radha and Krishna and the other on "A Hindu Wedding". improvisation. his presentations were creative. Uday Shankar used the essence of various traditions and techniques in his dance dramas and succeeded in presenting an integrated composition. Ananda Shankar. his son. He also met famous Russian ballerina. he was sent to the J. Rabindra is a popular sitar maestro and familiar to all as "Pandit Ravi Shankar". Rajasthan. Uday Shankar went to England to study painting at the Royal College of Art. costume design etc. In 1920. His youngest brother. the "Uday Shankar Indian Culture Center" was forced to shut and was reopened twenty years later. He also invited leading exponents of different musical forms to teach in the school. Own Troupe In 1929. Rewarded with Padma Vibhushan in 2003.Friendship of Vietnam and Cuba State Council etc. September 1900 26. Uday Shankar was the eldest son of noted barrister Syam Shankar. There. Family Uday Shankar was married to one of his students Amala and also had a son and a daughter. Among the experts were. London. Kandappa Pillai for Bharatanatyam. Between 1930 and 1960. Uday Shankar also had the brilliance of a painter within. 1977 Contribution Uday Shankar initiated a unique movement of revival of classical dances in 1930. Uttar Pradesh. He was married to classical dancer Tanushree Shankar. After Uday's death in 1977. his widow Amala Shankar took the charge of the school in Kolkata. Anna Pavlova at Covent Garden. Though he had no formal training in any classical form. School of the Arts in Bombay. Amobi Singh for Manipuri and Ustad Allauddin Khan. During the World War-II. Uday Shankar returned to India to form a dance troupe of his own. where his ballads were premiered. he choreographed two ballads. he toured through the western world and learned the western theatrical techniques. Besides an adept classical dancer. Shankaran Namboodiri for Kathakali. Later. Life Born in Udaipur. but in Calcutta. the school came to be known as "Uday Shankar Indian Culture Center". In 1938. J. Uday Shankar opened a dance school at Almora. He was the eldest of the four siblings.

Chinta Krishnamurthy and Pasumarthy Venugopal Krishna Sharma. Her grandfather. at the age of seventeen years. Yamini appeared as one of the leading classical dancers of India. Yamini became one of the most admired dancers of the country. named her `Yamini Poornatilaka`. better known as Yamini Krishnamurthy is a renowned Kuchipudi and Bharatnatyam dancer. "a beautiful mark on the brow of light". Her performances brought accolades from national and international recognition arena. Yamini was recognized as "Asthana Nartaki" (resident dancer) of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam. She started her career with a dance performance in 1957. meaning. including the coveted Padma Shree in the year 1968 and the Padma Bhushan . Within three years of her maiden performance. in 2001. She was also honored with the Sangeet Natak akademi Award in 1977 . Yamini also learnt Odissi from Guru Pankaj Charan Das and Kelucharan Mahapatra. Life Yamini Krishnamurthy is an eminent dancer and one of the major figures of Bharatnatyam and Kuchipudi dancing. Yamini Krishnamurthy performed her debut dance event in Chennai. She was born into a Telugu family on a full moon night in 1940 at Madanapalli. She has also made a special program on dance for Doordarshan channel.at Kalakshetra School of Dance. Yamini was fond of dancing and wanted to become a dancer. Since childhood. Besides Bharatnatyam and Kuchipudi. To impart training to younger dancers. Training Yamini Krishnamurthy received the initial training of Bharatnatyam from Rukmini Devi Arundale. She was. In 1957. She learnt Kuchipudi under the guidance of Vedantam Lakshmi Narayana Shastri. a noted Urdu poet. she had a colorful and eventful dancing career.the second highest civilian awards of the India. Yamini led an eventful dancing career and has been honored with Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan by the government of India.Born: 1940 Contributions Yamini 'Poornatilaka' Krishnamurthy. Yamini Krishnamurthy started the 'Yamini school of Dance' in Delhi in 1990. Ever since. Awards For her contribution in the development and promotion of the Indian classical dance forms. Her book 'A Passion for Dance' was well-received and appraised by the critics. Chennai. at the age of seventeen years. later. Her dancing career brought her many awards. groomed by eminent masters like Kanchipuram Ellappa Pillai and Thanjavur Kittappa Pillai. She is also considered as the torch-bearer of the Kuchipudi form of dance. Andhra Pradesh.

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