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Birju Maharaj
Born on 4th February 1938.
Indian dancer Birju Maharaj is a master of the Kalka-Bindadin gharana of Kathak dance, a leading exponent of the dance form. Born in the house of a prominent Kathak dancer, Jagannath Maharaj, the young Briju Maharaj was destined to follow in his father’s footsteps and make a name for himself as one of the foremost dancers in the genre, in India. Brilliant from a young age, he began reciting complex tihais and tukras as a toddler. Recognizing his son’s potential, his father began training him. Birju Maharaj proved to be an enthusiastic learner who decided early on to dedicate his life to the development of the Kathak dance form. The untimely death of his father came as a massive blow to the boy. However, he continued to receive training from his equally talented uncles and began teaching dance at the Sangeet Bharti in New Delhi when he was just 13. He soon gained a reputation as a notable dance teacher and eventually became the Head of Faculty and director at the Kathak Kendra (a unit of the Sangeet Natak Akademi) from where he retired, in 1998. Following his retirement he opened his own dance school, Kalashram. He has also choreographed Kathak dance sequences in some Bollywood movies. Birju Maharaj is the leading exponent of the Lucknow Kalka-Bindadin gharana of Kathak dance, and is the founder of the dance school Kalashram in Delhi which focuses on imparting training in the field of Kathak and associated disciplines. At the school he uses the traditional parameters to choreograph new presentations as he aspires to convey to the audience that even classical style can be very appealing, interesting and dignified.

Mallika Sarabhai
Born on 09th May 1954.
Mallika Sarabhai was one of India’s leading classical dancers and choreographers. A truly multifaceted personality, she was also an acclaimed actress and a prominent social and political activist. Born as the daughter of renowned Indian classical dancer Mrinalini Sarabhai and the legendary space scientist, Vikram Sarabhai, she grew up in an artistically and intellectually stimulating environment. Taking after her mother she began learning dance quite early on in life and started performing when she was just a teenager. She has acted in several Gujarati and Hindi films and has received much acclaim for her dancing and acting skills. A very independent person from a young age, she worked hard to create an identity of her own and refused to be overshadowed by the brilliance of her famous parents who were both highly accomplished in their own chosen fields. She managed to not only emerge as a successful professional in her own right, but also took forward the legacy of her illustrious parents by getting involved in social activism. Trained in the Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi dance forms, she helps her mother in running the dance academy ‘Darpana’, and has also created her own unique style of choreography in contemporary dance forms. She has been honored with several awards for her contribution to dance and the society.

Mrinalini Sarabhai
Born on 11 May 1918 AD Died at the age of 97 years. Died on 21 January 2016 AD
Mrinalini Sarabhai was one of the best known faces of Indian classical dance. She was an expert dancer in Bharatanatyam and Kathakali, and was also a choreographer and a dance instructor. A dynamic personality she believed that new dance forms do evolve over time, but it is also important that they develop from a traditional classical foundation. A pioneer in the field of Indian classical dance, she was the first classical dancer who turned to choreography. Born to a social worker and political activist, she received her early education from Santiniketan where she realized her true calling. Determined to receive the best possible training in different dance forms, she learnt Bharatanatyam, Kathakali, and Mohiniattam from some of the most prominent dance gurus of her time. She went on to attain great fame as a dancer not only in India but also in several other countries around the world. Married to the physicist Vikram Sarabhai, she became the mother of two children, but family life did not diminish her passion for dance even a bit. Following a successful career as a dancer she turned to choreography and choreographed more than three hundred dance dramas. She was bestowed with many national and international awards for her contribution towards classical dance.

She is best known for founding the Darpana Academy of Performing Arts, a centre for the arts which focuses on teaching different forms of dance, music, theatre, and puppetry. The organization also works towards women empowerment and addresses other social issues relating to human rights and environment.

Rukmini Devi Arundale
Born on 29 February 1904 AD Died at the age of 81 years. Died on 24 February 1986 AD
Rukmini Devi Arundale was an Indian classical dancer who led the renaissance of the ‘Bharatnatyam’ dance form and founded the Kalakshetra Foundation in Madras (now Chennai). She was also a theosophist who was greatly inspired by Annie Besant, the Theosophical Society’s British cofounder and president. Born into an upper class Brahmin family in India, she grew up in an environment where she was exposed to dance, music and culture. Her father was involved with the theosophical society and soon the young girl too followed suit. Eventually her interest in theosophy led her to marry a fellow theosophist, the British Dr. George Arundale, much to the shock of the traditional society she grew up in. Along with her husband she traveled all around the world meeting other theosophists and sharing ideas. Deeply involved in theosophical activities, she became the President of the All-India Federation of Young Theosophists. It was her meeting with the famous Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova which kindled in her a profound interest in the art form. Inspired by the Russian, she decided to discover traditional Indian dance forms and began learning Bharatnatyam and eventually founded an academy of dance and music. She played a vital role in revitalizing Bharatnatyam and popularizing it all over the world.

Sonal Mansingh
Born on 30 April 1944 AD
Sonal Mansingh is an eminent Indian classical dancer and choreographer, renowned for her Odissi dancing style. Prominently a dancer, she is also a philosopher, social reformer, thinker, choreographer and teacher. Despite the fact that dancing was not seen as a respectable profession in her time, she fought her way and achieved excellence in dancing which eventually connected her with the world. To her, dance is the medium through which she can present the views of the unheard. Her dance performances are simply amazing and her works have always been highly applauded, bringing her a lot of fame and fortune. In the history of Indian dance, her body of work is unique in range and scope, and covers several themes, both of traditional and contemporary interest. Lately, her work has shifted towards issues concerning women, environment, prison reforms and re-interpretation of ancient myths. A mesmerizing dancer, she is also a fine orator and through her determined participation in seminars, discussions, workshops and lectures she is able to influence a lot of people of her community. According to her, dance should speak the issues concerning the society at large and dancers must have love for literature, poetry, languages, sculpture and painting as dance is a rare confluence of all these arts.

Her renowned choreographic works include 'Indradhanush', Manavata', 'Sabras', 'Devi Durga Aatmayan', 'Mera Bharat', 'Draupadi’.
In 2000, her dance performances and lectures at various universities in North America were widely acclaimed in artistic as well as academic circles.

Terence Lewis
Born on 10 April 1975 AD
Terence Lewis is a famous Indian dancer and choreographer, who is trained in Indian folk, contemporary and neo-classical dance forms. He has choreographed many film songs, International stage shows, Bollywood shows, Indian contemporary performances, Western musicals, popular music videos and Broadway Western musicals.Terence is one of the few Indian choreographers to break into the international dancing scene. He was trained in Jazz, Ballet and contemporary dance at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre. He also completed contemporary dance training at New York’s Martha Graham Centre of Contemporary Dance. All this training transformed him into a remarkable dancer and mentor. He is the face of Bollywood entertainment today. Whilst being a celebrity choreographer, Terence continued to scale heights by instituting the ‘Terence Lewis Contemporary Dance Company’. This awesome choreographer is the first ever Indian to receive the ‘Dance Web Europe’ scholarship, the felicitation of which was held at Vienna, Austria. His foray into the Indian Bollywood scene kick-started with choreographing songs in movies like ‘Jhankaar Beats’, ‘Naach’, ‘Aisha’, ‘Isi Life Mein’ and ‘What’s Your Rashee’. His choreography for the iconic movie ‘Lagaan’ won him worldwide fame and many accolades.

His popularity peaked after his participation as one of the judges in the TV dance reality show ‘Dance India Dance’. His team ‘Terence Ki Toli’ won the show in season 2 under his mentorship.
He holds the Guinness world record for choreographing 1336 people together in a song, the highest number of people choreographed on a single stage.

 
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