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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.

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

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

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

received the "Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship". the narrative tradition of the North-Indian dance form in "Shakuntala". She is also the first dancer to have rejuvenated the soliloquy tradition. Contributions Shovana Narayan is a Kathak Maestro and an outstanding dancer. Besides. She is an incarnation of the great artistic and social traditions of India.Awards In 1956. 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. Trained by legendary Kathak maestro Pandit Birju Maharaj and Kundanlal Gangani at Kathak Kendra. Shovana Narayan is known for her strong urge for experimentation. Ramana Maharshi. 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 also organizes two festivals for providing a platform to the young. Life Shovana Narayan established herself as a dancer during 1970s and the last four decades have seen her captivating audiences in numerous dance festivals. Ramkrishna Paramhansa and Mahatma Gandhi. She has set a unique trend by redefining dance and often considered as a living legend in the field of art. Shovana Narayan was the first dancer to work on philosophical themes and on the lives of contemporary sages such as Vivekananda. Shovana Narayan is an alumnus of Miranda House. Author The noted Kathak dancer has written around ten books on the subject of dance. unknown and talented faces of the field. Herbert Traxl. Shovana Narayan has also worked with many western dancers and musicians. Rukmini Devi was awarded the Padma Bhushan and in 1967. former Austrian Ambassador to India. 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. Delhi. she . She has been awarded with Padmashri in 1992 and Sangeet Natak Academy Awards in 1999. She created a new and innovative style of performing arts by enriching it with a deeper and wider canvas of expression and dimensions. She also featured in India Today's list of '100 People Who Shaped India'. Delhi University. She is married to Dr.

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

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

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

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