Remembering Mrinalini Sarabhai

Mrinalini Sarabhai was an Indian classical dancer, choreographer and instructor. Let us remember her on the occasion of her birthday. 

Mrinalini Sarabhai

Mrinalini Sarabhai was an Indian classical dancer, choreographer and instructor. Let us remember her on the occasion of her birthday. 

Mrinalini was born to a Tamil Brahmin father and Malayali Nair mother in present-day Kerala on 11 May 1918. She attended a boarding school in Switzerland for two years, where, she received her first lessons in the Dalcroze school, a Western technique of dance movements. She was educated at Shantiniketan under the guidance of Rabindranath Tagore where she realised her true calling. She then went for a short time to the United States where she enrolled in the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. On returning to India, she began her training in the south Indian classical dance form of Bharatanatyam.

Mrinalini married the Indian physicist Vikram Sarabhai who is considered to be the Father of the Indian Space Program in 1942. A year later, she performed at the Théâtre national de Chaillot in Paris where she received a lot of critical acclaim.

She was the founder and director of the Darpana Academy of Performing Arts, an institute for imparting training in dance, drama, music and puppetry, in the city of Ahmedabad.

Besides choreographing more than three hundred dance dramas, she has also written many novels, poetry, plays and stories for children. She was the chairperson of the Gujarat State Handicrafts and Handloom Development Corporation Ltd. She was also one of the trustees of the Sarvodaya International Trust, an organization for the promotion of Gandhian ideals, and was also the chairperson of the Nehru Foundation for Development (NFD). Her autobiography is titled Mrinalini Sarabhai: The Voice of the Heart.

She received Padma Bhushan in 1992 and Padma Shri in 1965. She also received many other citations in recognition of her contribution to art. She trained over 18,000 students in Bharatanatyam and Kathakali.

She passed away on 21 January 2016. But her legacy continues.

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