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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.
called Inside Outside. In 1982. Today. She also formed "JANAVAK". she has also made herself count in the world of publications. The movie was launched in French and English. she has also played an active role in the UNICEF Peer Educators Project. with social issues like gender bias. In 1984. She has also produced over 2500 hours of broadcast programming in Gujarati dealing. Besides. In 1979. directed by renowned director Peter Brook. . "Kahkasha". • • • • • • • • • • • • • 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 the PIL. corruption.2007 FATEHPURA Model village project and UNICEF Rural Health Project. Some of her critically acclaimed films include "Lovesongs: Yesterday. she founded the "Darpana for Development" concentrating on the development of performance as a language for change. violence etc. she played the character of Draupadi in "The Mahabharata".Actor Mallika Sarabhai started her acting career at the age of fifteen and has worked in more than 30 films. communal hatred. 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". UNICEF Anandshala Project in 2005. Tomorrow". she was criticized by the extreme right-wing political parties after she filed a Public Interest Litigation in the Supreme Court of India. "A Thousand Flowers" and "Katha". After being recognized as a reputed dancer and film actor. the voice of the people. she had accused the BJP-led state government of supporting the genocide against the Muslims in Gujarat. Deeply excited by the possibility of continuing the work as an activist on TV. Mallika Sarabhai published India's first design magazine. Mallika Sarabhai took up many developmental projects including the "The Acting Healthy Project" (2008). to archive and preserve the folk and tribal culture of India. in 2001 she launched Darpana Communications. Following are some of the acclaimed books published by Mallika Sarabahi and Mapin Publishing Private Limited. Publisher Mallika Sarabhai never tried to confine herself into a single character. Controversy In 2001. the environment.
Kalashram Kathak maestro Pandit Birju Maharaj had a dream of opening a dance-school and Kalashram is the realface of the dream. popularly known as Achhan Maharaj.Born: February 4. The objective of the institute is primarily to produce highly talented students who would not only prove worthy of the training they receive. Kalashram. Lachhu Maharaj and Shambhu Maharaj also guided him in learning the Kathak dance. Birju Maharaj started learning dance forms at a very early stage. the family moved to Bombay. as a result. yoga. He gave his first performance at the age of seven. He is a wonderful singer with a strong grip over. The natural atmosphere. Life Birju Maharaj was born in the house of renowned Kathak proponent. At the age of thirteen. Dadra. dramatics. Bhajan and Ghazals. stagecraft etc. He is the only son and disciple of Shri Achhan Maharaj and is a familiar face of Indian Kathak dance all over the world. in 1998 Birju Maharaj started his own Kathak and Indian fine arts academy. Awards Pandit Birju Maharaj has won several honors and awards including the coveted Padma Vibhushan (1986). and Khairagarh University. His uncles. Sangam Kala Award. He was the recipient of the Lata Mangeshkar Puraskaar. Pandit Birju Maharaj has also been conferred with the honorary Doctorate degrees from Banaras Hindu University. taught in Sangeet Bharati. after the death of his father in 1947. The classrooms. painting. So. After his retirement from Kathak Kendra. the master of Kathak. Pandit Birju Maharaj is not only a Kathak dancer but also a sensitive poet and captivating orator. . His father. Sanskrit. unassuming but rich heritage of the country. but also live as modest. He has performed in almost all the countries of the globe. 1938 Contributions Birju Maharaj is a leading exponent and torch-bearer of the Kalka-Bindadin gharana of Lucknow. used to spend much time in teaching young Birju. Thumri. There. with numerous trees and ponds would be extremely inspiring and would bring everyone close to the simple. the fundamentals of Kathak. In 2002. he was invited to Delhi to teach at Sangeet Bharati. Soviet Land Nehru Award. and other associated disciplines like vocal and instrumental music. Bharatiya Kala Kendra and headed the teaching faculty Kathak Kendra (a unit of the Sangeet Natak Akademi) in Delhi. Jagannath Maharaj of Lucknow Gharana. humble and disciplined members of today's society. Teaching Birju Maharaj. he mastered the different aspects of the Kathak and other Indian classical dance forms. However. the students are trained in the field of Kathak. In Kalashram. practice halls and amphitheatre of Kalarshram reflect a shade of rural setup in the busy and fast urban lifestyle. He has also been awarded with the Kalidas Samman by the Government of Madhya Pradesh. Birju also accompanied his father to the places where Achhan Maharaj had to go to perform.
especially the conservatives. Chennai). she began to attend different performances of Pavlova's in Australia. The marriage created a huge uproar in the society. Her father's involvement in the Theosophical Society paved the way for Rukmini to come under the umbrella of Annie Besant's influence. February 1904 24. Dance Though she belonged to the upper-caste. Kalakshetra Within a year after her first performance at the Theosophical Society. considered as a low and vulgar art during that period. Life Rukmini Devi Arundale was born on February 29. Arundale was also in-charge of the organization's paper. She also acted as the Vice President of International Vegetarian Union for 31 years. was a dedicated member of the Theosophical Society formed by Annie Besant. Rukmini Devi met the legendary ballerina. Rukmini Devi was also known for her efforts towards the protection of animal rights and their welfare. All the members were deeply committed to the Theosophical society and as well as Kalakshetra. an engineer with the Public Works Department. in 1920. the then Prime Minister of India. a Sanskrit scholar and member of the academy. S. Anna Pavlova After her marriage. Rukmini Devi advocated the cause of Bharatnatyam. . Muthukumara Pillai and Karaikkal Saradambal Ammal joined the Kalakshetra as its teachers. to Neelakanta Sastri and Seshammal. Anna Pavlova on a ship to Australia. Subramania Sastri. at an early stage. Sarada. They couldn't accept the fact that a Brahmin girl can marry outside the prevailing caste-system. Fascinated by Rukmini Devi's love for the mankind and humanity. The family built their house. It is believed that Rukmini Devi had declined the chair of the President of India. near the headquarters of Theosophical Society at Adyar. Neelakanta Sastri shifted to Madras (now. Vegetarianism Rukmini Devi was against the custom of killing and sacrificing of animals. 1986 Contributions Rukmini Devi Arundale was a reputed dancer and choreographer of Bharatnatyam. He was an active member of the Theosophical Society. once offered by Morarji Desai. She also convinced proficient Meenakshisundaram Pillai to come to Madras to teach her. After his retirement. Her father. It was on Pavlova's request that Rukmini Devi learnt "ballet". until her death in 1986. Rukmini Devi was enthralled by the great artiste. Dr Arundale. Rukmini Devi and Dr George Arundale formed the Kalakshetra.Born: Passed February Away: 29. Ever since. Many renowned dancers including Meenakshisundaram Pillai. The name was decided by Pandit S. She began to learn dance performances from Mylapore Gauri Ammal. an Indian classical dance form. married her with the approval and support of her family. Her charismatic personality and contribution to the renaissance of Indian Classical music attained her niche in the arena of Indian culture. in 1917. Leelavati (Rukmini's niece) were among the first to join Kalakshetra. Radha. "New India". Rukmini Devi gave her first performance at the Diamond Jubilee celebrations of the Theosophical Society in 1935. 1904. Marriage Rukmini Devi first met Dr George Arundale.
she . Shovana Narayan was the first dancer to work on philosophical themes and on the lives of contemporary sages such as Vivekananda. Ramkrishna Paramhansa and Mahatma Gandhi. Delhi. former Austrian Ambassador to India. Trained by legendary Kathak maestro Pandit Birju Maharaj and Kundanlal Gangani at Kathak Kendra. Life Shovana Narayan established herself as a dancer during 1970s and the last four decades have seen her captivating audiences in numerous dance festivals. Contributions Shovana Narayan is a Kathak Maestro and an outstanding dancer. She is also the first dancer to have rejuvenated the soliloquy tradition. Shovana Narayan is an alumnus of Miranda House. She is married to Dr. Rukmini Devi was awarded the Padma Bhushan and in 1967. Besides. the narrative tradition of the North-Indian dance form in "Shakuntala". She also featured in India Today's list of '100 People Who Shaped India'. received the "Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship". Author The noted Kathak dancer has written around ten books on the subject of dance. She has been awarded with Padmashri in 1992 and Sangeet Natak Academy Awards in 1999. Shovana Narayan has also worked with many western dancers and musicians. She is an incarnation of the great artistic and social traditions of India. Narayan is the first ever professional dancer who combines a full fledged career as a senior serving civil servant in the Government of India. unknown and talented faces of the field. She has set a unique trend by redefining dance and often considered as a living legend in the field of art. Ramana Maharshi. Shovana Narayan is known for her strong urge for experimentation. She created a new and innovative style of performing arts by enriching it with a deeper and wider canvas of expression and dimensions. Shovana Narayan also organizes two festivals for providing a platform to the young.Awards In 1956. 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 University. 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. Herbert Traxl.
Awards Sonal Mansingh is the youngest recipient to receive the Padma Bhushan awarded by the President of India in 1992. sculpture and painting as dance is a rare confluence of all these arts. Her mother was a noted social activist and in 2002 awarded with Padma Bhushan. She was the youngest recipient of Padma Bhushan. which are currently in the repository of Odissi. 'Singar Mani' from Haridas Sangeet Sammelan. orator and a social activist. Life Sonal Mansingh was born to Arvind and Poornima Pakvasa on May 1. in 1992. Kuchipudi. 'Aatmayan'.has also been awarded with Rajiv Gandhi Puraskar. To her. and one of the first five Governors of India. Learning Sonal Mansingh started learning fundamentals of Bharatnatyam from Guru Kumar Jayakar at the age of seven. Her renowned choreographic works include 'Indradhanush'. Sonal became the first Indian woman dancer to be awarded with Padma Vibhushan. 'Rajiv Gandhi Excellence Award'. Sonal Mansingh founded the Centre for Indian Classical Dances in New Delhi to train students in Indian classical dance. dancers must have love for literature. Bombay. languages. at the Pandanallur school in Bombay. 'Devi Durga'. 1944 in Mumbai. a few of which are listed below. Medals of . In 1965. Besides being a dancer.A. a freedom fighter. she has received several other honors for her contribution to dance. Sonal Mansingh is a well-known choreographer. Her maiden professional performance was at Mumbai in 1964. In 2003. Manavatta'. Sonal aggrandized her dance by acquiring the different strands of Orissa culture. 'Draupati'. Sonal Mansingh believes that society and its happenings have an impact on all arts and subsequently on the artists. dance is the medium through which she can present the views of the unheard. poetry. For her contributions in the field of "Classical dancing" she has received accolades from many national and international organizations. 1944 Contributions Sonal Mansingh is an eminent Indian classical dancer and a leading exponent of Bharatnatyam. teacher. 'Indira Priya Darshini Awards'. According to her. and Rotary International Award and Japan's Oisca Award. 'Sabras'. she learnt Odissi from Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra. Her grandfather was Mangal Das Pakvasa. Besides. 'Natya Kala Ratna' from National Cultural Organisation. She is also the trustee of the largest institution in India. Born: May 1. the Indira Gandhi National Center for Arts. she learnt Bharatanatyam from Professor U S Krishna Rao and Chandrabhaga Devi at Bangalore. It includes the. Sonal has made much choreography on Indian mythology. She has B. Indira Priyadarshini Samman. Later. The organization has been working to promote performing arts and nurturing the cultural legacy of India. and Chhau. 'Mera Bharat'. Centre for Indian Classical Dances In 1977. She learnt almost all the dance numbers. (Honors) degree in German Literature from Elphinstone College.
. 1977 Contribution Uday Shankar initiated a unique movement of revival of classical dances in 1930. Between 1930 and 1960. Amobi Singh for Manipuri and Ustad Allauddin Khan. he toured through the western world and learned the western theatrical techniques. In 1938. Life Born in Udaipur. Uday Shankar returned to India to form a dance troupe of his own. based on the stories of Radha and Krishna and the other on "A Hindu Wedding". the school came to be known as "Uday Shankar Indian Culture Center". During the World War-II. School of the Arts in Bombay. improvisation. Rabindra is a popular sitar maestro and familiar to all as "Pandit Ravi Shankar". but in Calcutta.Friendship of Vietnam and Cuba State Council etc. Uday Shankar went to England to study painting at the Royal College of Art. was best known for his fusion in Western and Eastern musical styles. Family Uday Shankar was married to one of his students Amala and also had a son and a daughter. costume design etc. J. He also invited leading exponents of different musical forms to teach in the school. Uday Shankar was the eldest son of noted barrister Syam Shankar. his presentations were creative. Uday Shankar also had the brilliance of a painter within. He was the eldest of the four siblings. London. the "Uday Shankar Indian Culture Center" was forced to shut and was reopened twenty years later. his son. Later. His youngest brother. Besides an adept classical dancer. September 1900 26. Anna Pavlova at Covent Garden. Rewarded with Padma Vibhushan in 2003. Ananda Shankar. To develop his skills further. he was sent to the J. Awards Uday Shankar was awarded with "Padma Vibhushan" by the Government of India and the Desikottama by the Visva-Bharati University. his widow Amala Shankar took the charge of the school in Kolkata. Shankaran Namboodiri for Kathakali. Uday Shankar used the essence of various traditions and techniques in his dance dramas and succeeded in presenting an integrated composition. where his ballads were premiered. After Uday's death in 1977. Kandappa Pillai for Bharatanatyam. In 1920. Uttar Pradesh. Though he had no formal training in any classical form. The school continues to teach an all-embracing performance curriculum that includes training in folk and classical dance. Among the experts were. Rajasthan. Sonal becomes the first Indian woman dancer to receive this high honor. Uday Shankar opened a dance school at Almora. He also met famous Russian ballerina. Born: Passed December Away: 8. He also knitted the two different techniques so beautifully that his art became hugely popular both in India and the West. The government of India awarded Uday Shankar with the coveted "Padma Vibhushan. There. He was married to classical dancer Tanushree Shankar. Own Troupe In 1929. he choreographed two ballads.
Yamini Krishnamurthy performed her debut dance event in Chennai. meaning. named her `Yamini Poornatilaka`. at the age of seventeen years. Awards For her contribution in the development and promotion of the Indian classical dance forms.Born: 1940 Contributions Yamini 'Poornatilaka' Krishnamurthy. Yamini became one of the most admired dancers of the country. Chennai. She was also honored with the Sangeet Natak akademi Award in 1977 . Since childhood. She learnt Kuchipudi under the guidance of Vedantam Lakshmi Narayana Shastri. Within three years of her maiden performance. groomed by eminent masters like Kanchipuram Ellappa Pillai and Thanjavur Kittappa Pillai. she had a colorful and eventful dancing career. She is also considered as the torch-bearer of the Kuchipudi form of dance. later. Yamini appeared as one of the leading classical dancers of India. Yamini also learnt Odissi from Guru Pankaj Charan Das and Kelucharan Mahapatra. at the age of seventeen years. Life Yamini Krishnamurthy is an eminent dancer and one of the major figures of Bharatnatyam and Kuchipudi dancing. Yamini was recognized as "Asthana Nartaki" (resident dancer) of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam. Chinta Krishnamurthy and Pasumarthy Venugopal Krishna Sharma. "a beautiful mark on the brow of light". Yamini Krishnamurthy started the 'Yamini school of Dance' in Delhi in 1990. Ever since. Her grandfather. in 2001. Her dancing career brought her many awards. Her book 'A Passion for Dance' was well-received and appraised by the critics. Her performances brought accolades from national and international recognition arena. She started her career with a dance performance in 1957. She was.the second highest civilian awards of the India. To impart training to younger dancers. Yamini was fond of dancing and wanted to become a dancer. including the coveted Padma Shree in the year 1968 and the Padma Bhushan . Andhra Pradesh. Training Yamini Krishnamurthy received the initial training of Bharatnatyam from Rukmini Devi Arundale. In 1957. She has also made a special program on dance for Doordarshan channel. better known as Yamini Krishnamurthy is a renowned Kuchipudi and Bharatnatyam dancer. She was born into a Telugu family on a full moon night in 1940 at Madanapalli. a noted Urdu poet. Yamini led an eventful dancing career and has been honored with Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan by the government of India.at Kalakshetra School of Dance. Besides Bharatnatyam and Kuchipudi.
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