Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Classical Dancer of India

Mallika Sarabhai

Mallika Sarabhai
She is a well known Kuchipudi and Bharatanatyam dancer of India. She is the daughter of renowned artists. Her mother is a great dancer and father is a famous scientist. Well, we are talking about the celebrated dancer Mallika Sarabhai. In this article, we will present you with the biography of Mallika Sarabhai.

The holder of MBA and doctorate degree from IIM Ahmedabad, she is a multitalented personality. She is truly an all rounder. She has proved her worth in all the streams, then be it editing, anchoring, film making, dancing, acting etc. Mallika started learning dance at a very young age. To know the complete life history of Mallika Sarabhai, read on…

She began her career, when she was only fifteen years old. She took up the acting assignment to play the role of Draupadi in Peter Brook's film "The Mahabharata". Apart from being a professional dancer, she is also a social activist. During the 2002 riots of Gujarat, she raised her voice and spoke against the role played by the Narendra Modi government. She is an epitome of boldness and courage.

She, along with her mother, administers the functioning of the Darpana Academy of Performing Arts, which is located at Ahmedabad. Her works have been well acclaimed. She has received many accolades throughout her career. In the year 1977, she was honored with the "French Palme D'or", which is the highest civilian award of the Government of France. Later in Paris, she received the 'Best Soloist Artist' for best dance performance.

Protima Bedi

Born On: October 12, 1948
Born In: Delhi
Died On: August 18, 1998
Career: Classical Dancer and Model
Nationality: Indian

Protima Bedi, best remembered as a classical Indian dancer, was equally popular as a ramp model of the 1970s fashion diasporas in India. In fact she was one of the most popular celebrity faces in the world of fashion and dance in the country. However it was negative criticism that Protima Bedi had to face for the choices she made both in her career and her personal life. Much of the controversy surrounding her acts resulted from her being a part of an Indian society which had not yet progressed as much as its Western counterpart. Her modeling, her dance or her marriage to actor Kabir Bedi were enumerated in bold headlines in tabloids during that age. However glamour was not the predominant factor in this outstanding dancer's life. It was rather a hidden pain that drove her to acts of desperation. It was only after her tragic death that India truly understood the value of a dancer like Protima Bedi.

Protima Bedi was born on October 12, 1948 in a family of four children. She was the second child and had two sisters and one brother as siblings. Though Protima Bedi was born in Delhi, the Bedi family soon shifted base to Goa when Protima was only 5 years of age. Her father Laxmichand Gupta was a trader who had married out of his own caste. Therefore, he had to constantly flee from one place to another in fear of criticism. It was after four years of stay in Goa that the Bedi family landed in Bombay. However, Protima Bedi did not get to enjoy her stay in the financial capital as she was sent off to stay with her aunt in Karnal. It was in the Karnal district that Protima Bedi attended her initial years of school, consequently shifting to Panchgani, where she spent much of her schooling years at a girls boarding school named Kimmins High School. Protima Bedi returned to Bombay to attend St Xavier's College for her graduation degree.

It was right after she completed college that Protima Bedi started out as a model in Bombay. With her kind of looks, it was not difficult for Protima Bedi to win the attention of the media. Hair colored in golden streaks, halter neck dresses and body-hugging trousers was what people normally got to see Protima Bedi in during her modeling years. It was by the early 1970s that the girl from Delhi had firmly made a place for herself among the top models of that era, regardless of the fact that she was already married to Kabir Bedi during this time. But it was probably her advertising campaign for the Cineblitz magazine that Protima Bedi will best be remembered for. Her streaking (running nude in a public area) act in Juhu Beach in Bombay for the launch of the Cineblitz magazine in the year 1974 raised many an eyebrow, only helping to open the doors of controversy in her life.

However, in the following year, 26 years old then, Protima Bedi seemed to have sobered down a bit, with dance becoming the most important part of her life then. It was an Odissi dance recital which Protima Bedi witnessed accidentally, during this time that inspired her to take up the dance form as a career and changed the course of her life completely. Protima Bedi soon enrolled as a student of eminent Odissi dancer Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra dedicating more than half of her day in learning the nuances of Odissi dance. She got rid of her modern image and started participating in regular Odissi stage performances, later also opening her own dance school.

Dance Schools
Classical dance was one of the most important parts of Protima Bedi's life. Ever since she came into contact with the Odissi dance form in 1975, Protima Bedi had dedicated her life to it. To perfect her dance further, she started studying abhinaya from Guru Kalanidhi Narayan of Madras. Thereafter, there was no looking back for this ace dancer. Protima started giving performances all over the country. Soon after mastering the art, Protima Bedi set up a dance school of her own inside the premises of the Prithvi Theatre in Bombay, which later became the Odissi Dance Centre. But her most important contribution to the field of classical Indian dance was with the establishment of 'Nrityagram', a dance institute, designed on the lines of a gurukul, near Bangalore.

Nrityagram was India's first dance village where students could learn the classical forms of Indian dance for free. Apart from the seven classical dance forms, the school also taught two martial arts forms, Chhau and Kalaripayattu. Nrityagram soon acquired national and international recognition and it was after some years that Protima Bedi decided to build a tourist resort at the spot to ensure the flow of funds within Nrityagram. Protima Bedi even erected a temple in honor of her guru Kelucharan Mohapatra, her first inspiration to take up Odissi dance as a career. The temple stands erect even today at the site near Bangalore and just like before thousands of people from all over the world assemble in Nrityagram to celebrate the Vasanta Habba dance festival held since 1994.

Personal Life
Protima Bedi's personal life was nothing less than colorful. It is true that she was out of the ordinary and her personal choices only helped to prove that fact. Protima Bedi was flamboyant by nature and never felt shy of flaunting her relationships. Reports claim that she dated a number of men ranging from Pandit Jasraj to Vijaypath Singhania, Vasant Sathe to Jacques Lebel, Mario Kropf, Rajni Patel and Rom Whitaker, before finally tying the knot to internationally acclaimed actor Kabir Bedi. Her relationship with Kabir Bedi, which started soon after her college years, was a matter of gossip in various circles. Reports claim that Protima Bedi was introduced to Kabir Bedi by mutual friend Nina Gupta. She found Kabir Bedi so "fabulous" that Protima Bedi decided to move out with him within months after they met at Nina Gupta's party. She was in a live-in relationship with Kabir Bedi before marriage, an act that was considered taboo in the 1960s Bombay society. Protima Bedi and Kabir Bedi got married in 1969, when she was at the peak of her modeling career. The couple had two children, Pooja Bedi and Siddharth Bedi.

Last Days & Death
The last years of Protima Bedi's life were difficult, troublesome and pathetic. Her separation from Kabir Bedi in 1978 had already taken away the flamboyance that Protima Bedi was characterized with. Another turning point in Protima's life came when her son, Siddharth Bedi, who was struck with schizophrenia, committed suicide. The suicide of her son came as a blow to her and in the early 1998; Protima retired from public life and changed her name from Protima Bedi to Protima Gauri. She started traveling in the Himalayan region and stated that she had given up herself to the Himalayas. The same year, in August, Protima Gauri set off on her pilgrimage to Kailash Mansarovar and it was there that she disappeared after the Malpa landslide. Her remains and belongings were later recovered in Malpa, a village along the Indo-Tibet border. Her autobiography, Timepass, based on her journals and letters, collated and published by her daughter, Pooja Bedi in 2000, recounts how Protima Bedi had developed a distaste towards life after the death of her son Siddharth.
1948: Protima Bedi was born on October 12 in Delhi.
1957: Started her schooling in Panchgani.
1965: Came to Bombay for college at St Xavier's.
1968: Started modeling.
1969: Married Kabir Bedi.
1974: Infamous streaking for Cineblitz.
1975: Her introduction to Odissi dance.
1978: Separated from Kabir Bedi.
1990: Established Nrityagram on May 11.
1997: Her son Siddharth died, after which she eventually retired from public life.
1998: Was found dead in Pithoragarh on August 18.

Shovana Narayan

Shovana Narayan
A maestro of Kathak dance, she is a well known name that appears on the top in the list of eminent classical dancers of India. Her wonderful performances have left the people awestruck. Her teacher is none other than the famous Birju Maharaj. Well, we are talking about the great Indian Kathak dancer Shovana Narayan. In this article, we will present you with the biography of Kathak dancer Shovana Narayan.

At a very young age of four, Shovana started learning Kathak from the renowned dancer cum actress of the past Sadhana Bose in Calcutta (now Kolkata). She completed her Masters degree in Physics from Miranda House in Delhi. She tied her wedding knots with Dr. Herbert von Traxi, Austrian Ambassador to India. Also known as the Kathak queen, she is so much involved in dancing that she cannot imagine her life without it. It is not just a hobby for her, but the motive of her life.

Shovana Narayan has given an entirely new dimension to dancing. She is an accomplished dancer, whose facial expressions complements her dance and makes her performance simply outstanding. Her choreographic works have not only been well acclaimed in India, but are also highly praised overseas. Read on to know the complete life history of Shovana Narayan.

She has worked in collaboration with a number of prominent national and international musicians as well as dancers. Her notable works include "Moonlight Impressionism" and "The Dawn After". She has worked in close association with dancers from Western classical ballet and American tap dancer. She has given various dance performances with dancers of other Indian classical dance forms. Her repertoire encompasses movies like Akbar's Bridge (Hindi) "Das Geheimnis des Indisches Tanz" (German) and operas such as "Ghalib ki Dilli" and 'Wicchare Pani'.

Awards Won

Padma Shri
Sangeet Natak Akademi Award;
Delhi Government's Parishad Samman
Rajiv Gandhi Puraskar
Bihar Gaurav Puraskar
Indira Priyadarshini Samman
Oisca Award

Sonal Mansingh

Sonal Mansingh
An eminent Indian classical dancer, she is the maestro of Odissi dance form. She is also proficient in performing other dance forms such as Kuchipudi, Bharatnatyam and Chhau. Well, we are talking about the great Indian dancer Sonal Mansingh, who has made Indians proud. In this article, we will present you with the biography of Odissi dancer Sonal Mansingh, one of the most prominent dancers of India.

She was born in the year 1944 in Mumbai. Her dance performances are simply awe inspiring and have brought her lot of fame and fortune. Her works have always been highly praised. Infact, she has been honored with several awards as a mark of appreciation of her works. In the year 1992, she received the Padma Bhushan, which is the highest civilian award of India. To know the complete life history of Sonal Mansingh, read on.

Not only she has committed herself to the dancing field, but also made an incredible contribution in bringing a smile on the faces of millions of people. Sonal Mansingh is the first Indian dancer to have been honored with Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian award in the year 2003. Due to her great thoughts and opinions, sometimes, she is also called a philosopher.

She is a multifaceted personality, who is called by different names, such as a dancer, philosopher, social reformer, thinker, choreographer and teacher. She has been performing on stage since 1964. She has taken formal training in Chaau dance, Bharatnatyam, and Indian music. In the year 1977, Sonal established the Centre for Indian Classical Dances (CICD) in Delhi.

Her best choreographic works include Mera Bharat, Devi Durga, Indradhanush, Sabras, Manavatta, Aatmayan, and Draupati. She has traveled all over the world and entertained people with her classic dance performances. She is of the opinion that, dance should speak the issues concerning the society and people at large. Some of her choreographic works have brought forth, issues related to women and environment. She has always participated enthusiastically in seminars organized to discuss social issues.

At an art festival, she came across her first husband Lalit Mansingh. His father Dr. Mayadhar Mansingh took his daughter-in-law to Odissi guru Kelucharan Mohapatra and she began her training in Odissi dance from the year 1965. Lalit had to shift to Geneva for professional reasons. In the meanwhile, she went to Delhi to continue with her dance training. As years passed by, the couple decided to go apart.

Sonal Mansingh took up dancing at the time, when it wasn't considered to be a very good thing. However, her parents always gave her liberty to pursue what she wants to achieve in her life. She was born in a very broad minded family. Her mother Poornima Pakvasa herself had a very artistic mind and her grandfather always advocated for the equality of women.

Her grandfather Mangaldas Pakvasa was a great freedom fighter. He was one among the few initial governors of India, so celebrated personalities used to frequently visit her home, even when she was young. He gave a boost to her artistic talent and encouraged her to pursue her dream of enriching the Indian culture with her dance.

Awards Won

Padma Bhushan (1992)
Padma Vibhushan (2003)
Indira Priya Darshini Awards
Natya Kala Ratna from National Cultural Organization
Rajiv Gandhi Excellence Award
Singar Mani award from Haridas Sangeet Sammelan

Yamini Krishnamurthy

Yamini Krishnamurthy
Born in the year 1940 to a Telugu family at Chidambaram in Tamilnadu, Yamini Krishnamurthy is an eminent Bharatnatyam dancer, who has swayed the entire country with her fabulous dance performance. She is also well known for her Kuchipudi dance style. When she was five years old, she started learning Bharatnatyam dance from the Kalashetra School of Dance in Chennai. She took training under the guidance of Rukmini Devi Arundale. Well, in this article, we will present you with the biography of Bharatnatyam dancer Yamini Krishnamurthy.

After completing her basic learning at Kalashetra, she took further training from renowned exponents such as Thanjavur Kittapa Pillai, Dhandayudhpani Pillai, Kanchipuram Ellapa Pillai, and Mylapore Gouri Amma. She went on stage for the first time in the year 1957 in Chennai. She won the hearts of people with her charisma and heart throbbing performance. Read on to know the complete life history of Yamini Krishnamurthy…

By the year 1960, she had set up her foothold in this industry and earned a name for herself. Her name appeared in the list of leading dancers of India and she has strived hard to maintain that position till date. She has been giving wonderful performances for the past four decades. She also has made an immense contribution in popularizing the Kuchipudi dance. Her dance performances brought international recognition to classical folk dances of India.

During her long career, she has won many accolades such as Padmashri (1968), Sangeet Natak Academy Award (1977) and Padma Bhushan (2001). She was also honored with the title of `Asthana Narthaki'. She has been pursuing an active career. She produced a TV serial for Doordarshan, which was based on the Indian dance styles. She also wrote an autobiography titled "A Passion for Dance". In the year 1990, she established the 'Yamini School of Dance' in New Delhi, where she teaches dance to the budding stars of tomorrow.

Birju Maharaj 

Birju Maharaj
Born: February 4, 1937
Achievement: Well-known exponent of Kathak; Recipient of Sangeet Natak Academy Award, Padma Vibhushan, Kalidas Samman, Soviet Land Nehru Award, SNA Award, Sangam Kala Award.

Pandit Birju Maharaj is a legendary Kathak dancer. He belongs an illustrious family of dance masters of the Lucknow gharana. His two uncles Shambu and Lacchu Maharaj, and his father Acchan Maharaj were all well-known Kathak dancers. Apart from Kathak, Pandit Birju Maharaj is also an accomplished vocalist.

Pandit Birju Maharaj alias Brij Mohan Nath Mishra was born on February 4, 1937. He took training in Kathak under the guidance of his father, Achchan Maharaj and uncles Lacchu Maharaj and Shambhu Maharaj. Birju Maharaj gave his first performance at the young age of seven at Lucknow and after that there was no looking back.

Birju Maharaj is a multi-faceted personality. Besides his mastery over Kathak, he is also a superb musician, percussionist, composer, teacher, director, choreographer and a poet. Birju Maharaj has composed many dance dramas like 'Gobardhan Leela', 'Makhan Chori', 'Malti-Madhav', 'Kumar Sambhav', and 'Phag Bahar'. Birju Maharaj has also dabbled in films. He composed two classical dance sequence for Satyajit Ray's film 'Shatranj Ke Khiladi' and choreographed a song for Sanjay Leela Bhansal's film 'Devdas'.

Birju Maharaj is a recipient of several honors and awards. These include: Sangeet Natak Academy Award, Padma Vibhushan, Kalidas Samman, Soviet Land Nehru Award, SNA Award, Sangam Kala Award etc. He was also conferred with two honorary doctorate degrees and the Nehru Fellowship.

Birju Maharaj taught at Sangeet Bharati, Bharatiya Kala Kendra and headed the teaching faculty Kathak Kendra in Delhi till his retirement in 1998.

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