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