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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.
She also formed "JANAVAK". In 1984. with social issues like gender bias. Deeply excited by the possibility of continuing the work as an activist on TV. • • • • • • • • • • • • • 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. Today. she founded the "Darpana for Development" concentrating on the development of performance as a language for change. called Inside Outside. the voice of the people. the environment. The movie was launched in French and English. Some of her critically acclaimed films include "Lovesongs: Yesterday. She has also produced over 2500 hours of broadcast programming in Gujarati dealing. Controversy In 2001. After being recognized as a reputed dancer and film actor. she has also made herself count in the world of publications. Mallika Sarabhai published India's first design magazine. to archive and preserve the folk and tribal culture of India. Peter Brook's "The Mahabharata". communal hatred. UNICEF Anandshala Project in 2005. violence etc. Following are some of the acclaimed books published by Mallika Sarabahi and Mapin Publishing Private Limited. in 2001 she launched Darpana Communications. Tomorrow". she has also played an active role in the UNICEF Peer Educators Project.Actor Mallika Sarabhai started her acting career at the age of fifteen and has worked in more than 30 films.2007 FATEHPURA Model village project and UNICEF Rural Health Project. Mallika Sarabhai took up many developmental projects including the "The Acting Healthy Project" (2008). she played the character of Draupadi in "The Mahabharata". . directed by renowned director Peter Brook. she had accused the BJP-led state government of supporting the genocide against the Muslims in Gujarat. In 1979. In 1982. The project supported by ArtVenture took crucial learning on how to avoid maternal deaths and infant deaths amongst the very deprived communities. she was criticized by the extreme right-wing political parties after she filed a Public Interest Litigation in the Supreme Court of India. Besides. Publisher Mallika Sarabhai never tried to confine herself into a single character. "A Thousand Flowers" and "Katha". corruption. In the PIL. "Kahkasha".
and other associated disciplines like vocal and instrumental music. Life Birju Maharaj was born in the house of renowned Kathak proponent. the fundamentals of Kathak. The natural atmosphere. after the death of his father in 1947. dramatics. There. Lachhu Maharaj and Shambhu Maharaj also guided him in learning the Kathak dance. yoga. . Pandit Birju Maharaj has also been conferred with the honorary Doctorate degrees from Banaras Hindu University. Birju also accompanied his father to the places where Achhan Maharaj had to go to perform. stagecraft etc. At the age of thirteen. but also live as modest. Pandit Birju Maharaj is not only a Kathak dancer but also a sensitive poet and captivating orator. practice halls and amphitheatre of Kalarshram reflect a shade of rural setup in the busy and fast urban lifestyle. as a result.Born: February 4. He was the recipient of the Lata Mangeshkar Puraskaar. Sanskrit. he mastered the different aspects of the Kathak and other Indian classical dance forms. He is the only son and disciple of Shri Achhan Maharaj and is a familiar face of Indian Kathak dance all over the world. humble and disciplined members of today's society. with numerous trees and ponds would be extremely inspiring and would bring everyone close to the simple. taught in Sangeet Bharati. and Khairagarh University. 1938 Contributions Birju Maharaj is a leading exponent and torch-bearer of the Kalka-Bindadin gharana of Lucknow. His father. the family moved to Bombay. Jagannath Maharaj of Lucknow Gharana. So. Bharatiya Kala Kendra and headed the teaching faculty Kathak Kendra (a unit of the Sangeet Natak Akademi) in Delhi. Bhajan and Ghazals. However. He is a wonderful singer with a strong grip over. used to spend much time in teaching young Birju. Kalashram Kathak maestro Pandit Birju Maharaj had a dream of opening a dance-school and Kalashram is the realface of the dream. Sangam Kala Award. Thumri. he was invited to Delhi to teach at Sangeet Bharati. Soviet Land Nehru Award. His uncles. in 1998 Birju Maharaj started his own Kathak and Indian fine arts academy. painting. In 2002. Birju Maharaj started learning dance forms at a very early stage. He has also been awarded with the Kalidas Samman by the Government of Madhya Pradesh. After his retirement from Kathak Kendra. the master of Kathak. The objective of the institute is primarily to produce highly talented students who would not only prove worthy of the training they receive. Kalashram. the students are trained in the field of Kathak. Teaching Birju Maharaj. The classrooms. He gave his first performance at the age of seven. popularly known as Achhan Maharaj. Awards Pandit Birju Maharaj has won several honors and awards including the coveted Padma Vibhushan (1986). unassuming but rich heritage of the country. Dadra. He has performed in almost all the countries of the globe. In Kalashram.
. Marriage Rukmini Devi first met Dr George Arundale. Her father. considered as a low and vulgar art during that period. Ever since. Muthukumara Pillai and Karaikkal Saradambal Ammal joined the Kalakshetra as its teachers. near the headquarters of Theosophical Society at Adyar. married her with the approval and support of her family. Neelakanta Sastri shifted to Madras (now. a Sanskrit scholar and member of the academy. Many renowned dancers including Meenakshisundaram Pillai. Her father's involvement in the Theosophical Society paved the way for Rukmini to come under the umbrella of Annie Besant's influence. Rukmini Devi gave her first performance at the Diamond Jubilee celebrations of the Theosophical Society in 1935. The name was decided by Pandit S. After his retirement. until her death in 1986. Rukmini Devi met the legendary ballerina. Leelavati (Rukmini's niece) were among the first to join Kalakshetra. Anna Pavlova on a ship to Australia. Chennai). It is believed that Rukmini Devi had declined the chair of the President of India. She began to learn dance performances from Mylapore Gauri Ammal. Rukmini Devi advocated the cause of Bharatnatyam. Sarada. an Indian classical dance form. at an early stage. S. Vegetarianism Rukmini Devi was against the custom of killing and sacrificing of animals. Rukmini Devi and Dr George Arundale formed the Kalakshetra. Kalakshetra Within a year after her first performance at the Theosophical Society. Rukmini Devi was enthralled by the great artiste. Arundale was also in-charge of the organization's paper. They couldn't accept the fact that a Brahmin girl can marry outside the prevailing caste-system. Dr Arundale. Subramania Sastri. All the members were deeply committed to the Theosophical society and as well as Kalakshetra. was a dedicated member of the Theosophical Society formed by Annie Besant. 1904. February 1904 24. to Neelakanta Sastri and Seshammal. "New India". She also acted as the Vice President of International Vegetarian Union for 31 years. Rukmini Devi was also known for her efforts towards the protection of animal rights and their welfare. Radha. It was on Pavlova's request that Rukmini Devi learnt "ballet". in 1917. she began to attend different performances of Pavlova's in Australia. The family built their house. the then Prime Minister of India. Anna Pavlova After her marriage. The marriage created a huge uproar in the society. once offered by Morarji Desai. She also convinced proficient Meenakshisundaram Pillai to come to Madras to teach her. 1986 Contributions Rukmini Devi Arundale was a reputed dancer and choreographer of Bharatnatyam. an engineer with the Public Works Department.Born: Passed February Away: 29. Her charismatic personality and contribution to the renaissance of Indian Classical music attained her niche in the arena of Indian culture. Dance Though she belonged to the upper-caste. in 1920. Fascinated by Rukmini Devi's love for the mankind and humanity. He was an active member of the Theosophical Society. Life Rukmini Devi Arundale was born on February 29. especially the conservatives.
unknown and talented faces of the field. She is also the first dancer to have rejuvenated the soliloquy tradition. former Austrian Ambassador to India. Ramkrishna Paramhansa and Mahatma Gandhi. She is married to Dr. 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. Trained by legendary Kathak maestro Pandit Birju Maharaj and Kundanlal Gangani at Kathak Kendra. Ramana Maharshi. the narrative tradition of the North-Indian dance form in "Shakuntala". Shovana Narayan also organizes two festivals for providing a platform to the young. Shovana Narayan has also worked with many western dancers and musicians. She also featured in India Today's list of '100 People Who Shaped India'. She has been awarded with Padmashri in 1992 and Sangeet Natak Academy Awards in 1999. Shovana Narayan was the first dancer to work on philosophical themes and on the lives of contemporary sages such as Vivekananda. 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. Shovana Narayan is an alumnus of Miranda House.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. She has set a unique trend by redefining dance and often considered as a living legend in the field of art. she . Shovana Narayan is known for her strong urge for experimentation. Contributions Shovana Narayan is a Kathak Maestro and an outstanding dancer. Herbert Traxl. Author The noted Kathak dancer has written around ten books on the subject of dance. received the "Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship". Narayan is the first ever professional dancer who combines a full fledged career as a senior serving civil servant in the Government of India. Delhi University. She is an incarnation of the great artistic and social traditions of India. Besides. Rukmini Devi was awarded the Padma Bhushan and in 1967. Delhi.
A. Awards Sonal Mansingh is the youngest recipient to receive the Padma Bhushan awarded by the President of India in 1992. In 2003. Her renowned choreographic works include 'Indradhanush'. the Indira Gandhi National Center for Arts. 'Sabras'. and one of the first five Governors of India. Sonal became the first Indian woman dancer to be awarded with Padma Vibhushan. Manavatta'. dancers must have love for literature. Indira Priyadarshini Samman. and Rotary International Award and Japan's Oisca Award. orator and a social activist. 'Natya Kala Ratna' from National Cultural Organisation. she learnt Bharatanatyam from Professor U S Krishna Rao and Chandrabhaga Devi at Bangalore. In 1965. (Honors) degree in German Literature from Elphinstone College. 1944 in Mumbai. According to her. she has received several other honors for her contribution to dance. Besides being a dancer. Later. 1944 Contributions Sonal Mansingh is an eminent Indian classical dancer and a leading exponent of Bharatnatyam. She has B. She learnt almost all the dance numbers. Sonal aggrandized her dance by acquiring the different strands of Orissa culture. languages. It includes the. teacher. and Chhau. she learnt Odissi from Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra. a few of which are listed below. dance is the medium through which she can present the views of the unheard. Her grandfather was Mangal Das Pakvasa. She was the youngest recipient of Padma Bhushan. Learning Sonal Mansingh started learning fundamentals of Bharatnatyam from Guru Kumar Jayakar at the age of seven.has also been awarded with Rajiv Gandhi Puraskar. sculpture and painting as dance is a rare confluence of all these arts. 'Draupati'. 'Indira Priya Darshini Awards'. 'Mera Bharat'. poetry. To her. Sonal Mansingh is a well-known choreographer. Sonal Mansingh believes that society and its happenings have an impact on all arts and subsequently on the artists. Besides. Centre for Indian Classical Dances In 1977. 'Singar Mani' from Haridas Sangeet Sammelan. Kuchipudi. a freedom fighter. 'Aatmayan'. She is also the trustee of the largest institution in India. Medals of . Her mother was a noted social activist and in 2002 awarded with Padma Bhushan. Her maiden professional performance was at Mumbai in 1964. which are currently in the repository of Odissi. 'Rajiv Gandhi Excellence Award'. Bombay. in 1992. Born: May 1. 'Devi Durga'. Life Sonal Mansingh was born to Arvind and Poornima Pakvasa on May 1. For her contributions in the field of "Classical dancing" she has received accolades from many national and international organizations. Sonal Mansingh founded the Centre for Indian Classical Dances in New Delhi to train students in Indian classical dance. at the Pandanallur school in Bombay. The organization has been working to promote performing arts and nurturing the cultural legacy of India. Sonal has made much choreography on Indian mythology.
Though he had no formal training in any classical form. He was the eldest of the four siblings. Among the experts were. He also met famous Russian ballerina. J. Born: Passed December Away: 8. Life Born in Udaipur. Besides an adept classical dancer. Rewarded with Padma Vibhushan in 2003. September 1900 26. he choreographed two ballads. He also invited leading exponents of different musical forms to teach in the school. Uday Shankar also had the brilliance of a painter within. his son. Ananda Shankar. 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. was best known for his fusion in Western and Eastern musical styles. Kandappa Pillai for Bharatanatyam. He also knitted the two different techniques so beautifully that his art became hugely popular both in India and the West. Later. He was married to classical dancer Tanushree Shankar. Rajasthan. Between 1930 and 1960. Uday Shankar went to England to study painting at the Royal College of Art. the "Uday Shankar Indian Culture Center" was forced to shut and was reopened twenty years later. improvisation. In 1920. where his ballads were premiered. Sonal becomes the first Indian woman dancer to receive this high honor. There. During the World War-II. Uday Shankar was the eldest son of noted barrister Syam Shankar. he was sent to the J. Shankaran Namboodiri for Kathakali. his presentations were creative. After Uday's death in 1977. Uttar Pradesh. 1977 Contribution Uday Shankar initiated a unique movement of revival of classical dances in 1930. Family Uday Shankar was married to one of his students Amala and also had a son and a daughter. his widow Amala Shankar took the charge of the school in Kolkata. To develop his skills further. Uday Shankar opened a dance school at Almora. Amobi Singh for Manipuri and Ustad Allauddin Khan. His youngest brother. the school came to be known as "Uday Shankar Indian Culture Center". London. based on the stories of Radha and Krishna and the other on "A Hindu Wedding". The school continues to teach an all-embracing performance curriculum that includes training in folk and classical dance. Uday Shankar used the essence of various traditions and techniques in his dance dramas and succeeded in presenting an integrated composition. Rabindra is a popular sitar maestro and familiar to all as "Pandit Ravi Shankar". Anna Pavlova at Covent Garden. costume design etc. but in Calcutta. he toured through the western world and learned the western theatrical techniques. School of the Arts in Bombay. . Uday Shankar returned to India to form a dance troupe of his own.Friendship of Vietnam and Cuba State Council etc. In 1938. Own Troupe In 1929.
Yamini also learnt Odissi from Guru Pankaj Charan Das and Kelucharan Mahapatra. She learnt Kuchipudi under the guidance of Vedantam Lakshmi Narayana Shastri. Chinta Krishnamurthy and Pasumarthy Venugopal Krishna Sharma. later. She was also honored with the Sangeet Natak akademi Award in 1977 . Ever since. To impart training to younger dancers. Training Yamini Krishnamurthy received the initial training of Bharatnatyam from Rukmini Devi Arundale. in 2001. Within three years of her maiden performance. In 1957.at Kalakshetra School of Dance. She was.Born: 1940 Contributions Yamini 'Poornatilaka' Krishnamurthy. Yamini appeared as one of the leading classical dancers of India.the second highest civilian awards of the India. She was born into a Telugu family on a full moon night in 1940 at Madanapalli. named her `Yamini Poornatilaka`. Besides Bharatnatyam and Kuchipudi. Yamini led an eventful dancing career and has been honored with Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan by the government of India. Yamini was recognized as "Asthana Nartaki" (resident dancer) of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam. a noted Urdu poet. Yamini Krishnamurthy started the 'Yamini school of Dance' in Delhi in 1990. Andhra Pradesh. Her dancing career brought her many awards. including the coveted Padma Shree in the year 1968 and the Padma Bhushan . Awards For her contribution in the development and promotion of the Indian classical dance forms. Yamini was fond of dancing and wanted to become a dancer. at the age of seventeen years. She has also made a special program on dance for Doordarshan channel. Yamini became one of the most admired dancers of the country. meaning. Yamini Krishnamurthy performed her debut dance event in Chennai. "a beautiful mark on the brow of light". Her grandfather. groomed by eminent masters like Kanchipuram Ellappa Pillai and Thanjavur Kittappa Pillai. at the age of seventeen years. Her book 'A Passion for Dance' was well-received and appraised by the critics. She started her career with a dance performance in 1957. Since childhood. Life Yamini Krishnamurthy is an eminent dancer and one of the major figures of Bharatnatyam and Kuchipudi dancing. Chennai. she had a colorful and eventful dancing career. Her performances brought accolades from national and international recognition arena. She is also considered as the torch-bearer of the Kuchipudi form of dance. better known as Yamini Krishnamurthy is a renowned Kuchipudi and Bharatnatyam dancer.
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