Sonal Mansingh is one of the finest classical dancers of the country, who has made her mark in the field of Odissi Dance. She was born on 1st May 1943 to a devout mother Poornima Pakvasa who had a love for creative art. Sonal Mansingh took up dance as profession at a time when it still had not gained respectability as a profession. Prejudices still exist in order that a dancer was called names like 'nautch girl', she did not pay heed to such snide remarks. She grew up in a family, which emphasized through their living, the values of the free Indian spirit. Her grand father Mangaldas Pakvasa, a freedom fighter was a man who believed in equality of gender. He instilled in her, timeless values that she still cherishes today and encouraged her artistic talents, which she wanted to use to serve the cause of culture with dignity through dance. So the support from grandfather and mother to learn dance raised the great dancer. To her dance is a part of the environment and dance forms should reflect issues of the society and she firmly believes that art forms have the power to bring even countries closer. Some of her choreographic works reflects issues concerning women and environment.
Yamini Krishnamurthy is an exponent of Bharatnatyam and Kuchipudi and has dedicated her life to Indian classical dance for decades. This eminent dancer of Bharatnatyam and Kuchipudi, Yamini Krishnamurthy was born into a Telugu family on a full moon night in 1940 at Madanapalli, Andhra Pradesh. Yamini's father, M. Krishnamurthy, was a Sanskrit scholar and grandfather was an expert in Urdu poetry. Her grandfather named her 'Yamini Poornatilaka', that means "a beautiful mark on the brow of light". Her charisma and stage presence were recognized when she gave her debut in 1957 in Chennai. She became one of the most admired dancers in the country by 1960. Her performances brought about national and international recognition to the classical styles of Bharat Natyam and Kuchipudi. Yamini's played significant role in popularizing Kuchipudi that was then emerging as a solo dance form of Andhra Pradesh in southern India.
Mallika Sarabhai is one of the most renowned Kuchipudi and Bharatanatyam dancers in India today. This performer and creator of many talents developed from being a young, internationally acclaimed classical dancer and film personality, to being an activist and commentator on social issues. Positive reassertion of images of womanhood has been reflected through her dance, theatre and writing. She exercises the vocabularies of Indian traditions as biting tools to carve new reactions in a culture, which favors conservatism. As dancer, actress, choreographer, writer, or instigator of community projects she challenges audiences to sit up and think, realign themselves to questions of ecology, women's place in society, gender awareness, cultural atrophy, the very place of the arts in our society. Dynamic, charming and dry-witted, she is a rare creature in the arts. It is her expertise and deep knowledge of two forms of Indian classical dance, Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi from Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh respectively at the root of Mallika's performance. Mallika received her first award in 1977. Along with many salutations she was the recipient of the "French Palme D'or", the highest civilian award by the French Government and in Paris she was honored as the 'Best Soloist Artist' among 400 dancers from 25 countries among other awards.
Anita Ratnam is one of the most talented and accomplished classical dancers of the Indian subcontinent. She has been trained as a Bharatanatyam, Mohiniattam as well as a Kathakali dancer and is counted amongst the best choreographers of the South. With performances over 1000 and a three-decade career span Anita Ratnam is also handling the responsibility of being a Choreographer, cultural commentator, writer, speaker and television personality. She should be applauding for the role she is playing in the promotion of Indian dance internationally.
Under Adyar K. Lakshmanan, Anita had her formal training in dance. Later, she enrolled herself in Rukmini Devi Arundale's 'Kalakshetra' for a Postgraduate diploma in Dance. From the University of New Orleans Anita completed her Master's degree in Theatre and Television. She also worked as a Television Producer in the United States for ten years. Anita was nominated for the Emmy and Ace awards as an appreciation of her work during her reign in United States. Anita also made an initial venture into films and played the role of an antagonist in Rajiv Menon's famous movie, 'Kandukondain Kandukondain'.
She received her Kathak training under Pandit Birju Maharaj, Sm. Bela Arnab, Sm. Ram Mohan Mishra, Rajendra Gangani, Bandana Sen, Smt. Susmita Mishra and Pandit Vijai Shankar. She trained Kathakali under Guru Govindan and Odissi under Guru Muralidhar Majhi. She received her lessons in folk dance under Sm. Arati Majumdar, and Ram Gopal Bhattacharya taught her Pandit Uday Shankar style of dancing. She trained under Kalanidhi Narayan for Satvik Abhinaya. Pandit Birju Maharaj, Ram Gopal Bhattacharya and Santi Bose taught her the art of choreography.
Apart from solo renditions, Amita has been continuously experimenting with new choreographic technique. She has staged a number of successful productions including Nazrul nana Chande, Biswa Beena Robey, Durga, Chitra Jhankar, East West Encounter, Joyodhwani, Amrapali, Varsha and Basant-Bahar.
Jayashree Rajagopalan was inducted into the art of dance. She perfectly exaggerated her art with strong and active practice, love and commitment. She has catered her audiences in almost all major cities and festivals all over India through her solo concerts and ballets. At the international festival held at Athens, at the Festival De La Mer at Mauritius and at Singapore she has performed her concert. She has bagged the unparallel exclusive right of representing India in France in the International summer Festival. She has demonstrated for major universities and organizations also. Jayashree Rajagopalan has been esteemed as a performing artiste of rare quality. Kavi Kalidasa's "Shakuntalam", the "Ramayana", excerpts from the Bhagvatam, the "Dasavataram" and Rabindranath Tagore's work "Chandalika" are the dance dramas that she has choreographed and presented to cater the audience.
Chitra Vishweswaran is famed as one of the leading Bharatnatyam dancers of India. Along with being an amazing dancer, she is also an excellent teacher and a brilliant choreographer. Chitra has enriched the traditional Indian dance style with contributing her own concepts through her experimentation and innovations. She produced and choreographed several dance dramas in her own style, which were highly acclaimed. Some of them are 'Devi Ashta Rasa Malika', 'Panchali' based on Subramania Bharathi's Panchali Sabadam, 'Raghuvamsa Thilakam', 'Ayothi Mannan', 'Dwarakanatham Bhaje', 'Dasavatharam', and 'Nritya Srinkhala'.
Madhavi Mudgal is trained in Bharatnatyam and Kathak under great gurus and have also performed these dance styles. Later she turned to Odissi, under the teacher Guru Hare Krishna, which she adopted as her preferred medium. She has also learned Odissi under the teaching of the renowned Guru Kelucharan Mahapatra. Madhavi has been actively involved in propagating the art of Odissi in New Delhi and other parts of India as well as the world, through teaching, performing and conducting workshops. She has trained a number of accomplished students who are performers now. In 1985 she organized a seminar and festival, Angahaar, a first of its kind event in New Delhi when gurus, scholars and dancers met to revisit the origins of Odissi and think about the future trends of the dance form.
Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam
Dr. Padma Subramanyam, the legendary Bharatnatyam dancer is a rare combination of a dancer, research scholar, choreographer, music composer & musician, teacher and author. Padma Subramanyam enchants spectators with perfect movements and hand gestures, timing, original ideas and emotes beautifully with her face. She imparts her immense knowledge to others by teaching dance, conducting workshops, giving lectures, doing research and writing articles This multi faceted and talented artist is famous in India as well as abroad, several films and documentaries have been made in her honor by countries like Japan, Australia and Russia.
Saroja Vaidyanathan, a Bharatnatyam exponent, choreographer, and Guru has given performances at almost all major Centres in the country and in Nepal, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Korea, Japan, Ukraine, UK, USA and Canada. During ASEAN Summit 2002, she was on a Cultural tour programme to Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, and Singapore accompanying the Indian Prime Minister.
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Indian Classical Dancers