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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.
After being recognized as a reputed dancer and film actor. in 2001 she launched Darpana Communications. • • • • • • • • • • • • • 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. . the environment. The project supported by ArtVenture took crucial learning on how to avoid maternal deaths and infant deaths amongst the very deprived communities. UNICEF Anandshala Project in 2005. The movie was launched in French and English. she has also played an active role in the UNICEF Peer Educators Project. Peter Brook's "The Mahabharata". Publisher Mallika Sarabhai never tried to confine herself into a single character.Actor Mallika Sarabhai started her acting career at the age of fifteen and has worked in more than 30 films. "Kahkasha". She has also produced over 2500 hours of broadcast programming in Gujarati dealing. directed by renowned director Peter Brook. the voice of the people. "A Thousand Flowers" and "Katha". Mallika Sarabhai took up many developmental projects including the "The Acting Healthy Project" (2008). Tomorrow". Today. Besides. she played the character of Draupadi in "The Mahabharata". violence etc. In 1982. communal hatred. Controversy In 2001. to archive and preserve the folk and tribal culture of India. 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. She also formed "JANAVAK". she has also made herself count in the world of publications. Following are some of the acclaimed books published by Mallika Sarabahi and Mapin Publishing Private Limited. In 1979. corruption. she had accused the BJP-led state government of supporting the genocide against the Muslims in Gujarat. In the PIL. In 1984.2007 FATEHPURA Model village project and UNICEF Rural Health Project. called Inside Outside. Some of her critically acclaimed films include "Lovesongs: Yesterday. with social issues like gender bias. she founded the "Darpana for Development" concentrating on the development of performance as a language for change. Deeply excited by the possibility of continuing the work as an activist on TV.
Dadra. There. His uncles. but also live as modest. After his retirement from Kathak Kendra. painting. Pandit Birju Maharaj has also been conferred with the honorary Doctorate degrees from Banaras Hindu University. stagecraft etc. The objective of the institute is primarily to produce highly talented students who would not only prove worthy of the training they receive. He was the recipient of the Lata Mangeshkar Puraskaar. Life Birju Maharaj was born in the house of renowned Kathak proponent. At the age of thirteen. used to spend much time in teaching young Birju. he mastered the different aspects of the Kathak and other Indian classical dance forms. The classrooms. 1938 Contributions Birju Maharaj is a leading exponent and torch-bearer of the Kalka-Bindadin gharana of Lucknow. Awards Pandit Birju Maharaj has won several honors and awards including the coveted Padma Vibhushan (1986). Birju Maharaj started learning dance forms at a very early stage. Soviet Land Nehru Award. His father. Sangam Kala Award. Bharatiya Kala Kendra and headed the teaching faculty Kathak Kendra (a unit of the Sangeet Natak Akademi) in Delhi. In Kalashram. yoga. popularly known as Achhan Maharaj. In 2002. He is the only son and disciple of Shri Achhan Maharaj and is a familiar face of Indian Kathak dance all over the world. and other associated disciplines like vocal and instrumental music. Kalashram. . Jagannath Maharaj of Lucknow Gharana. The natural atmosphere. as a result. Sanskrit. humble and disciplined members of today's society. So. However.Born: February 4. with numerous trees and ponds would be extremely inspiring and would bring everyone close to the simple. the master of Kathak. practice halls and amphitheatre of Kalarshram reflect a shade of rural setup in the busy and fast urban lifestyle. He has performed in almost all the countries of the globe. the students are trained in the field of Kathak. He is a wonderful singer with a strong grip over. Birju also accompanied his father to the places where Achhan Maharaj had to go to perform. He gave his first performance at the age of seven. He has also been awarded with the Kalidas Samman by the Government of Madhya Pradesh. Teaching Birju Maharaj. Lachhu Maharaj and Shambhu Maharaj also guided him in learning the Kathak dance. Bhajan and Ghazals. taught in Sangeet Bharati. Pandit Birju Maharaj is not only a Kathak dancer but also a sensitive poet and captivating orator. he was invited to Delhi to teach at Sangeet Bharati. Kalashram Kathak maestro Pandit Birju Maharaj had a dream of opening a dance-school and Kalashram is the realface of the dream. and Khairagarh University. the family moved to Bombay. the fundamentals of Kathak. dramatics. in 1998 Birju Maharaj started his own Kathak and Indian fine arts academy. Thumri. unassuming but rich heritage of the country. after the death of his father in 1947.
Neelakanta Sastri shifted to Madras (now. Life Rukmini Devi Arundale was born on February 29. Anna Pavlova After her marriage. Many renowned dancers including Meenakshisundaram Pillai. February 1904 24. Rukmini Devi was enthralled by the great artiste. Anna Pavlova on a ship to Australia. Ever since. Her father. Vegetarianism Rukmini Devi was against the custom of killing and sacrificing of animals. at an early stage. Her charismatic personality and contribution to the renaissance of Indian Classical music attained her niche in the arena of Indian culture. to Neelakanta Sastri and Seshammal. Radha. until her death in 1986. The marriage created a huge uproar in the society. Marriage Rukmini Devi first met Dr George Arundale. Rukmini Devi advocated the cause of Bharatnatyam. It was on Pavlova's request that Rukmini Devi learnt "ballet". especially the conservatives. 1986 Contributions Rukmini Devi Arundale was a reputed dancer and choreographer of Bharatnatyam. near the headquarters of Theosophical Society at Adyar. Arundale was also in-charge of the organization's paper. an Indian classical dance form. Fascinated by Rukmini Devi's love for the mankind and humanity. was a dedicated member of the Theosophical Society formed by Annie Besant. The name was decided by Pandit S. She also convinced proficient Meenakshisundaram Pillai to come to Madras to teach her. in 1917. She also acted as the Vice President of International Vegetarian Union for 31 years. After his retirement. Her father's involvement in the Theosophical Society paved the way for Rukmini to come under the umbrella of Annie Besant's influence. All the members were deeply committed to the Theosophical society and as well as Kalakshetra. once offered by Morarji Desai. They couldn't accept the fact that a Brahmin girl can marry outside the prevailing caste-system. Sarada. she began to attend different performances of Pavlova's in Australia. married her with the approval and support of her family. Rukmini Devi was also known for her efforts towards the protection of animal rights and their welfare. in 1920. Rukmini Devi and Dr George Arundale formed the Kalakshetra. He was an active member of the Theosophical Society. The family built their house. Rukmini Devi gave her first performance at the Diamond Jubilee celebrations of the Theosophical Society in 1935. 1904. Kalakshetra Within a year after her first performance at the Theosophical Society. the then Prime Minister of India. an engineer with the Public Works Department. Leelavati (Rukmini's niece) were among the first to join Kalakshetra. Subramania Sastri. It is believed that Rukmini Devi had declined the chair of the President of India.Born: Passed February Away: 29. Rukmini Devi met the legendary ballerina. a Sanskrit scholar and member of the academy. Muthukumara Pillai and Karaikkal Saradambal Ammal joined the Kalakshetra as its teachers. She began to learn dance performances from Mylapore Gauri Ammal. . Dance Though she belonged to the upper-caste. considered as a low and vulgar art during that period. Dr Arundale. "New India". Chennai). S.
Shovana Narayan is an alumnus of Miranda House. Life Shovana Narayan established herself as a dancer during 1970s and the last four decades have seen her captivating audiences in numerous dance festivals. Delhi. Author The noted Kathak dancer has written around ten books on the subject of dance. 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 created a new and innovative style of performing arts by enriching it with a deeper and wider canvas of expression and dimensions. Besides. the narrative tradition of the North-Indian dance form in "Shakuntala". Trained by legendary Kathak maestro Pandit Birju Maharaj and Kundanlal Gangani at Kathak Kendra. former Austrian Ambassador to India. She is an incarnation of the great artistic and social traditions of India. She also featured in India Today's list of '100 People Who Shaped India'. 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 is known for her strong urge for experimentation. She has been awarded with Padmashri in 1992 and Sangeet Natak Academy Awards in 1999. She is married to Dr. 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.Awards In 1956. received the "Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship". she . She is also the first dancer to have rejuvenated the soliloquy tradition. Ramkrishna Paramhansa and Mahatma Gandhi. Herbert Traxl. Delhi University. Rukmini Devi was awarded the Padma Bhushan and in 1967. 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 also organizes two festivals for providing a platform to the young. She has set a unique trend by redefining dance and often considered as a living legend in the field of art. unknown and talented faces of the field. Shovana Narayan has also worked with many western dancers and musicians.
Sonal Mansingh founded the Centre for Indian Classical Dances in New Delhi to train students in Indian classical dance. Sonal has made much choreography on Indian mythology. in 1992. at the Pandanallur school in Bombay. She has B. languages. Her grandfather was Mangal Das Pakvasa. Awards Sonal Mansingh is the youngest recipient to receive the Padma Bhushan awarded by the President of India in 1992. Life Sonal Mansingh was born to Arvind and Poornima Pakvasa on May 1. 1944 in Mumbai. She is also the trustee of the largest institution in India. Manavatta'. teacher. Besides being a dancer. and Rotary International Award and Japan's Oisca Award. poetry. which are currently in the repository of Odissi. In 1965. 'Natya Kala Ratna' from National Cultural Organisation. 'Rajiv Gandhi Excellence Award'. the Indira Gandhi National Center for Arts. 'Mera Bharat'. she learnt Bharatanatyam from Professor U S Krishna Rao and Chandrabhaga Devi at Bangalore. Born: May 1. a freedom fighter. 'Devi Durga'. Learning Sonal Mansingh started learning fundamentals of Bharatnatyam from Guru Kumar Jayakar at the age of seven. Medals of . 'Draupati'. Indira Priyadarshini Samman. she learnt Odissi from Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra.A. Her renowned choreographic works include 'Indradhanush'. For her contributions in the field of "Classical dancing" she has received accolades from many national and international organizations. She was the youngest recipient of Padma Bhushan. Sonal became the first Indian woman dancer to be awarded with Padma Vibhushan. She learnt almost all the dance numbers. Her mother was a noted social activist and in 2002 awarded with Padma Bhushan. Centre for Indian Classical Dances In 1977. It includes the. Sonal Mansingh is a well-known choreographer. According to her. sculpture and painting as dance is a rare confluence of all these arts. dance is the medium through which she can present the views of the unheard. a few of which are listed below. Kuchipudi. In 2003. (Honors) degree in German Literature from Elphinstone College. dancers must have love for literature. Besides. and one of the first five Governors of India. Later. 'Aatmayan'. Her maiden professional performance was at Mumbai in 1964. Bombay. orator and a social activist. she has received several other honors for her contribution to dance. The organization has been working to promote performing arts and nurturing the cultural legacy of India. To her. Sonal aggrandized her dance by acquiring the different strands of Orissa culture. 'Singar Mani' from Haridas Sangeet Sammelan. Sonal Mansingh believes that society and its happenings have an impact on all arts and subsequently on the artists. 1944 Contributions Sonal Mansingh is an eminent Indian classical dancer and a leading exponent of Bharatnatyam. 'Indira Priya Darshini Awards'. and Chhau. 'Sabras'.has also been awarded with Rajiv Gandhi Puraskar.
He also invited leading exponents of different musical forms to teach in the school. His youngest brother. Life Born in Udaipur. Own Troupe In 1929. The school continues to teach an all-embracing performance curriculum that includes training in folk and classical dance. Family Uday Shankar was married to one of his students Amala and also had a son and a daughter. Between 1930 and 1960. Among the experts were. his presentations were creative. To develop his skills further. London. improvisation. Though he had no formal training in any classical form. Shankaran Namboodiri for Kathakali. Uday Shankar also had the brilliance of a painter within.Friendship of Vietnam and Cuba State Council etc. Uday Shankar returned to India to form a dance troupe of his own. He was the eldest of the four siblings. Uday Shankar went to England to study painting at the Royal College of Art. he toured through the western world and learned the western theatrical techniques. There. 1977 Contribution Uday Shankar initiated a unique movement of revival of classical dances in 1930. Sonal becomes the first Indian woman dancer to receive this high honor. The government of India awarded Uday Shankar with the coveted "Padma Vibhushan. After Uday's death in 1977. Rabindra is a popular sitar maestro and familiar to all as "Pandit Ravi Shankar". Kandappa Pillai for Bharatanatyam. J. where his ballads were premiered. Anna Pavlova at Covent Garden. he was sent to the J. Rewarded with Padma Vibhushan in 2003. September 1900 26. costume design etc. In 1938. his widow Amala Shankar took the charge of the school in Kolkata. Born: Passed December Away: 8. In 1920. the school came to be known as "Uday Shankar Indian Culture Center". but in Calcutta. Amobi Singh for Manipuri and Ustad Allauddin Khan. School of the Arts in Bombay. He also knitted the two different techniques so beautifully that his art became hugely popular both in India and the West. Uday Shankar was the eldest son of noted barrister Syam Shankar. He also met famous Russian ballerina. Uday Shankar opened a dance school at Almora. Awards Uday Shankar was awarded with "Padma Vibhushan" by the Government of India and the Desikottama by the Visva-Bharati University. Uday Shankar used the essence of various traditions and techniques in his dance dramas and succeeded in presenting an integrated composition. Uttar Pradesh. During the World War-II. Later. He was married to classical dancer Tanushree Shankar. based on the stories of Radha and Krishna and the other on "A Hindu Wedding". Besides an adept classical dancer. was best known for his fusion in Western and Eastern musical styles. Ananda Shankar. his son. Rajasthan. . he choreographed two ballads. the "Uday Shankar Indian Culture Center" was forced to shut and was reopened twenty years later.
Born: 1940 Contributions Yamini 'Poornatilaka' Krishnamurthy. Yamini also learnt Odissi from Guru Pankaj Charan Das and Kelucharan Mahapatra. Ever since. a noted Urdu poet. at the age of seventeen years. She was also honored with the Sangeet Natak akademi Award in 1977 . in 2001. Andhra Pradesh. She has also made a special program on dance for Doordarshan channel. Yamini became one of the most admired dancers of the country. Yamini was fond of dancing and wanted to become a dancer. Besides Bharatnatyam and Kuchipudi.at Kalakshetra School of Dance. She is also considered as the torch-bearer of the Kuchipudi form of dance. at the age of seventeen years. She was born into a Telugu family on a full moon night in 1940 at Madanapalli. "a beautiful mark on the brow of light". Training Yamini Krishnamurthy received the initial training of Bharatnatyam from Rukmini Devi Arundale. Her book 'A Passion for Dance' was well-received and appraised by the critics. better known as Yamini Krishnamurthy is a renowned Kuchipudi and Bharatnatyam dancer. Chinta Krishnamurthy and Pasumarthy Venugopal Krishna Sharma. Her dancing career brought her many awards. later. Awards For her contribution in the development and promotion of the Indian classical dance forms. meaning. groomed by eminent masters like Kanchipuram Ellappa Pillai and Thanjavur Kittappa Pillai. To impart training to younger dancers. Yamini led an eventful dancing career and has been honored with Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan by the government of India. Yamini Krishnamurthy started the 'Yamini school of Dance' in Delhi in 1990. Since childhood. she had a colorful and eventful dancing career. In 1957. Within three years of her maiden performance. Yamini was recognized as "Asthana Nartaki" (resident dancer) of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam. Yamini appeared as one of the leading classical dancers of India. including the coveted Padma Shree in the year 1968 and the Padma Bhushan . Yamini Krishnamurthy performed her debut dance event in Chennai. Her grandfather. Life Yamini Krishnamurthy is an eminent dancer and one of the major figures of Bharatnatyam and Kuchipudi dancing. Her performances brought accolades from national and international recognition arena. She was. named her `Yamini Poornatilaka`. She learnt Kuchipudi under the guidance of Vedantam Lakshmi Narayana Shastri. She started her career with a dance performance in 1957. Chennai.the second highest civilian awards of the India.