Noted danseuse and Padma Bhushan recipient Mrinalini Sarabhai, passed away on 21 January 2016 at the age of 97. Fondly referred to as 'Amma' she was wife of renowned Indian scientist Vikram Sarabhai. In her lifetime she founded the Darpana Academy of Performing Arts in Ahmedabad which bestows "Mrinalini Sarabhai Award for Classical Excellence", in the field of classical dance. She performed in over 100 countries popularising Bharatnatyam and Kathakali on the international stage.
Mrinalini Sarabhai was born in Kerala on May 11, 1918, to a prominent family of freedom fighters. While her father Dr. Swaminathan was barrister at the Madras High Court, her mother Ammu Swaminathan was a great freedom fighter. Her sister Lakshmi Sehgal, of the Indian National Army of Subhash Chandra Bose's Indian National Army (INA), died in 2012.
After schooling in Switzerland, she went to Santiniketan to receive education in music and painting. She began her training in Bharatnatyam at a very early age under Meenakshi Sundaram Pillai and the classical dance-drama of Kathakali under the legendary Guru Thakazhi Kunchu Kurup. In an interview to TOI in 1999, she said, "I knew I would be a dancer when I was four years old. I started seeing everything in images. While listening to music at age four, I would create my own movement." She would add, "Dance is the breath of my life and the stage is my mother. I was born with a desperate consuming desire to create and the need to question."
Mrinalini married Indian physicist Vikram Sarabhai in 1942. The couple was blessed with a son, Kartikeya and a daughter Mallika who too went on to attain fame in dance and theatre.
Contribution in Field of Art and Culture
Credited with popularising Bharatnatyam and Kathakali on the international stage she after her marriage to Vikram Sarabhai settled Ahmedabad and founded Darpana in 1948. Her performance at Théâtre national de Chaillot in Paris proved a milestone in her career. She was praised for the dancing skills. In her long illustrious career she performed in over 100 countries. She is credited for raising social issues like women empowerment, dowry deaths, environmental degradation, and degradation of human values through her art of expression. Many young talents received their formal training under her watchful eyes.
A lady of great calibre and talent she pen down number of novels, poetry, plays and stories for children. At later part of her life she got associated with number of governmental and non governmental institutions including Gujarat State Handicrafts and Handloom Development Corporation Ltd, Sarvodaya International Trust, and Nehru Foundation for Development (NFD). Her autobiography is titled Mrinalini Sarabhai: The Voice of the Heart.
Illness and Death
Affected by old age-related complications she breathed her last on 21 January 2016 at her home at the age of 97.
People from all walks of life mourned her death.
President of India: Demise of Mrinalini Sarabhai leaves a void in world of creativity & performing arts which will be difficult to fill #PresidentMukherjee
Mamata Banerjee: Condolences to family and friends of Mrinalini Sarabhai who passed away today. She was a true pioneer in dance
Oommen Chandy: Condolences to MallikaSarabhai and #Sarabhai family at the loss of noted danseuse PadmaBhushan #MrinaliniSarabhai
Ahmed Patel: Pained to hear about the passing away of Mrinalini Sarabhai. She played a vital role in popularization of Indian arts. It is a great loss!
Harsha Bhogle: Didn't know Mrinalini Sarabhai but feel sad to read of her passing. She & her husband,the great Dr Vikram Sarabhai,contributed much to India
Sagarika Ghose: RIP Mrinalini Sarabhai. Legendary dancer of such enormous grace and charisma.
Ranjit Hoskote: RIP Mrinalini Sarabhai (1918-2016), dancer, choreographer, institution-builder: radiant embodiment of our Tagorean & Nehruvian legacies.
Madhavan Narayanan: She belonged to an enchanted era & family that straddled science, art, business & social causes. Mrinalini Sarabhai, danseuse, activist, RIP
Children: Kartikeya Sarabhai and Mallika Sarabhai
(FAN OF Shrimati MRINALINI SARABHAI)
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