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Dance & Choreography

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T.Balasaraswati (1918-1984) was born in a family that has been a repository of the Carnatic tradition of music. Her formal training started at the age of four under the late Guru Kandappa Pillai. Balasaraswati's debut took place in her seventh year at Kancheepuram at the Amanakshi Amman temple. Soon she was in great demand for public performances. No dancer captured the public imagination as Balasaraswati did in the thirties and forties. Balasaraswati made the public aware of Bharata Natyam by the beauty and the eloquence of her dancing. She is the recipient of several honours and awards, which include the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, Padma Bhushan and an honorary doctorate from the Rabindra Bharati University.


Pandit Birju Maharaj (b.1937) is perhaps the foremost exponent of the country's Kathak dancers belonging to the Lucknow gharana. Son of well-known Kathak dancer Achchan Maharaj and nephew and student of Shambhu Maharaj, Birju Maharaj made his mark in the arena when he received the coveted Sangeet Natak Akademi award at the age of 28. He has mastered the various nuances of Kathak from Acchan Maharaj, Lacchu Maharaj and Shambhu Maharaj and developed his own unique style. In his own words, Birju Maharaj has likened Lacchu Maharaj and Shambhu Maharaj to the moon and the sun, and Acchan Maharaj to the sky. Combined they form his universe of Kathak. He has several honours and awards to his credit including the prestigious Padma Vibhushan (1986) by the government of India and the Sangam Kala Award (2000). At present Birju Maharaj heads the teaching faculty at Delhi's Kathak Kendra.


One of the greatest dancers of our time, Indrani Rehman was among the luminous names of the sixties and seventies who carried the glory of Indian classical arts to all corners of the world, through her varied performances imbued with grace of body and spirit, and her mastery over several dance forms. Having settled in the United States, Indrani Rehman had become a distant legend for dance enthusiasts in India, though she continued to work actively in the USA. Indrani Rehman helped in the revival and popularization of Odissi dance. She was awarded Padma Shri in 1969 and Sahitya Kala Parishad award in 1973.


Narasimhachari made his debut in Kuchipudi at the tender age of five under the rigorous training of his father Sri Satyanarayanachari. He performed the Burra Katha (a ballad form in Telugu) along with his younger sister and brother. The trio very soon became the most popular group in Andhra Pradesh, so much so that they had the honour of performing for the then President of India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad. Narasimhachari was trained in Bharatanatyam under the expert tutelage of Rukmini Devi at the Kalakshetra. Narasimhachari is a rare combination of a music composer, choreographer, singer, nattuvanar, mridangam player, concert musician, dancer and a highly respected Guru. His wife Vasanthalakshmi specialised in nattuvangam and also contributes the lyrics for their compositions. The Narasimhacharis have produced as many as 21dance-dramas. Natyaveda, one such endeavour, had for its theme the exploration of the Vedic origins of dance as expounded in the Natya Shastra of Bharata. They were on the faculty of the University of Central Oklahoma (UCO) from the year 1995-1998. Narasimhachari choreographed a special programme titled "Jugal Bandhi" presenting three major classical dance styles of South India � Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi and Mohiniattam. Of the several dance-dramas choreographed by them, mention may be made of Kambaramayanam, Sivaleela, Saranam Aiyappa, Megha, Sandesa, Girija Kalyanam, Annamacharya, Nrityankita, Bharati Kannamma , Panchatantra, Voice of Ganga, Jesus Christ, Natya Veda and Challenge of Growth.


Daughter of the dancing legend Mrinalini Sarabhai and the legendary scientist Vikram Sarabhai, Mallika Sarabhai is a renowned exponent of Bharata Natyam and Kuchipudi and an internationally known choreographer, who has to her credit compositions like Draupadi, Shakti - The Powar of Woman, Sita's Daughters, Itan Kahani, Aspiration, Ganga, Surya, Mean Streets on Earth and "V for". She played the role of Draupadi in Peter Brooke's film Mahabharata, which was made in English and French. She has been an anchor on television for several programmes like Turning Point, Eye Witness and Show Reeland Kaleidoscope. She made an earlier unsuccessful attempt at acting in Hindi and Gujarati films. Later she directed many educational films on several general subjects. She is currently the co-director of the Darpana Academy of Performing Arts at Ahmedabad.


Protima Bedi was an accomplished Odissi dancer and an actress. In 1990 she founded Nrityagram, India�s first and only dance village set up exclusively for the preservation of the seven classical Indian dance styles and two martial art forms of India.


Noted Odissi danseuse died on 24 June 1997 at the age of 53. Born in a respectable and orthodox family, Sanjukhta was the first Oriya girl to embrace this classical dance at an early age and ensure its grand revival. She started performing Odissi at the age of six under the guidance of Guru Padma Bhusan Kelu Charan Mahapatra and bagged the first prize in the International Children's Film Festival in 1952. Panigrahi resurrected Odissi dance from obscurity and made it famous the world over. She was the first woman artiste to be allowed to perform in the Shankatmochan temple festival some years ago. She also founded the Kalinga Kalakshetra to impart training in Odissi dance and promote performing arts. Sanjukta was the first ever artiste who choreographed and performed the non-traditional lyric within the limits of the Odissi style and her experiment with the Surdas Padmavalli, Tagore songs, Bhagwad Geeta and Tulsi Ramayan were highly successful. Being the exponent of both Bharatnatyam and Odissi, she took great interest and initiative in explaining the originality of the Odissi style and established it as an independent style of Indian classical dance. She was awarded Padma Shri in 1975.


Sitara Devi is a living legend known the world over as the 'Kathak Queen'. She took her training in dance from her father Sukhdev Maharaj, Shambhu Maharaj and Acchan Maharaj. By the age of ten, Sitara was on stage as a professional solo dancer. When she was about 12, Niranjan Sharma, a film producer and dance director chose her for a three-month contract in Usha Haran and Sitara became a dancer with the Sagar Studios. Fame followed close behind and Allehlal, Nagina and Roti made her a movie sensation; Vatan made her a superstar. Sitara Devi was honoured with the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1970.


Sonal Mansingh has been on stage since 1964. Her role as a social activist, thinker, researcher, orator, choreographer and teacher combines admirably with her dancing. She founded the Centre for Indian Classical Dances (CICD) in 1977 in Delhi and has trained many young men and women, some of who have earned critical acclaim already. A leading exponent of Odissi, with a background of decades of training in Bharata Natyam, Chhau and Indian music, she has made original choreographic works based on Indian mythology as well as contemporary issues. She is a recipient of several honours and awards which include Singar Mani from Haridas Sangeet Sammelan, Mumbai (1967), Medal of Friendship Vietnam (1983), Natya Kala Ratna from National Cultural Organization (1985), Nrityakala Kaumudi Kala Priya, Nellore, Andhra Pradesh (1986), Rajiv Gandhi Excellence Award (1991), Padma Bhusan (1992), Indira Priya Darshini Award (1994) and the Medal of Friendship Cuba State Council (1995). She has widely traveled all over India and the world and participated in numerous festivals. Sonal Mansingh's renowned choreographic works include, Indradhanush (1999), Manavatta (1998), Sabras (Odissi Danced on Hindi film songs), Samanavaya (integration of India's Tribal, Urban, Classical, folk dance), Panch-Kanya, Devi Durga, Aatmayan, Mera Bharat, Dharma - Sringaara, Chaturang and Draupadi.


Uday Shankar (1900-1977) is one of the most renowned dancers and choreographers of India, who brought the Indian dance to international attention. Born in Udaipur, Shankar formed his own company in 1929 and toured until 1938. While in London at the Royal College of Art, he choreographed two Indian ballets, Krishna and Radha and A Hindu Wedding. He formed a troupe of �Hindu dancers� from among his family and friends and in March 1931 at the Theatre Champs-Elys�es in Paris, he presented Tandava Nritya. In 1939 he set up the Uday Shankar India Culture Center at Almore, with a galaxy of great Gurus like Shankaran Namburi in Kathakali, Kandappal Pillai in Bharatnatyam, Amobi Sing in Manipuri dance and Allauddin Khan in classical music. He was a man of superb showmanship and perfectionism. By the sheer impact of his physical presence on stage he transformed the traditional forms into the most memorable works. He is widely accepted as the Father of Modern Dance in India. Some of Uday Shankar's famous works include the innovative ballet, 'Labour and Machinery' and a path breaking film, 'Kalpana,' on the theme of dance.

||Introduction||  ||Classical dances|| Folk/Tribal Dances| |Modern Dances| |Great Dancers & Choreographers|| 

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