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Modern Dance

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Modern Dance in India has a relatively short history. Since the perception of 'modern' or 'contemporary' can vary from dancer to dancer, this dance form cannot be defined as easily as the classical dance styles of India. It is also not codified in a detailed manner, as are the classical styles.

Uday Shankar (1900-1977), elder brother of Pandit Ravi Shankar, is widely accepted as the Father of Modern Dance in India. He was instrumental in bringing the Indian dance on the world map. This great dancer had a very wide vision, and he appreciated the wonderful variety and scope of expression afforded by the different classical and folk dances existing in this country. He traveled widely between 1929 and 1938 and introduced audiences in the West to Indian dance and music through the performances of his troupe, the �Hindu Dancers�. In 1923 he choreographed two Indian ballets, Krishna and Radha and A Hindu Wedding.

In 1931 he presented the Tandava Nritya at the Theatre Champs-Elys�es in Paris. 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. Uday Shankar's daughter Mamata Shankar is not only keeping his unique style of ballet alive but also focusing on contemporary issues like peace, love for humanity and conservation of environment. Her Mamata Shankar Ballet Troupe has given performances in several countries abroad including USA, UK, France, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Norway, China, Japan, Greece and Egypt in the past two decades.

Today, in addition to the line established by Uday Shankar, there are other practitioners of Modern Dance in India who belong to other schools. The Tagore School of Dance is one such school where ballets are choreographed in a new style by taking the best elements from many classical dances. Some of the most well known dance-ballets of this school are the Natir Puja, Tasher Desh, Chandalika and Chitrangada. Mrilani Sarabai, wife of Dr Vikram Sarabhai, is another renowned classical dancer who has introduced experimentation in Indian dance. Her ballets like Manushaya, Rig-Veda and Matsya-Kanya have gained immense popularity.

Her daughter Mallika Sarabhai, who is a leading exponent of Bharata Natyam and Kuchipudi and an internationally known choreographer, has also produced several creative and powerful dance-ballets like Draupadi, Shakti - The Powar of Woman, Sita's Daughters -- all on the issues of concern to modern Indian women while her Itan Kahani (the Story of Stories) was done in collaboration with a Nigerian dancer. Mallika Sarabhai believes in the concept of "theatre for social purpose" and tackles subjects like arranged marriages, dowry system, violence, environment and communal harmony in her compositions.

Her other noted compositions are Aspiration, Ganga, Surya, Mean Streets on Earth and "V for". Another talented dancer is Daksha Seth who has choreographed vibrant pieces like Sarpagati, Yagna and In Search of My Tongue. Ivan Pulinkala is a young choreographer who believes in the fusion of classical Indian themes with modern western dance. He has choreographed productions of Evita, Tommy, West Side Story and Grease.


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


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