Mrinalini Sarabhai, Indian classical dancer, choreographer and instructor, Died at 97

  Artists, Business

Mrinalini Sarabhai/मृणालिनी साराभाई was born on May 11, 1918, and died on January 21, 2016.

She was an Indian classical dancer, choreographer and instructor.

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

Mrinalini received many awards and citations in recognitions of her contribution to art. She trained over 18,000 students in Bharatnatyam and Kathakali.

Mrinalini was born in Kerala on 11 May 1918, the daughter of social worker and former parliament member Ammu Swaminathan.

Miss Sarabhai spent her childhood in Switzerland, where, she received her first lessons in the Dalcroze school, a Western technique of dance movements.

Receiving her educated at Santiniketan under the guidance of Rabindranath Tagore where she realised her true calling.

Sarabhai then went for a short time to the United States where she enrolled in the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

Upon her returning to India, Mrinalini started her training in the south Indian classical dance form of Bharatanatyam beneath Meenakshi Sundaram Pillai and the classical dance-drama of Kathakali under the legendary Guru Thakazhi Kunchu Kurup.

Mrinalini Sarabhai has been awarded by the Indian government with the national civilian awards Padma Bhushan in 1992 and the Padma Shri in 1965.

Honoured with the Degree of Doctor of Letters, honoris causa (LittD) by the University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK in 1997.

Mrinalini was also the first Indian to receive the medal and Diploma of the French Archives Internationales de la Danse.

The dancer was nominated to the Executive Committee of the International Dance Council, Paris in 1990 and awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship, New Delhi in 1994.

She was given the gold medal by the Mexican Government for her choreography for the Ballet Folklorico of Mexico.

Following that, The Darpana Academy of Performing Arts celebrated its golden jubilee on December 28, 1998, with the announcement of the annual “Mrinalini Sarabhai Award for Classical Excellence”, in the field of classical dance.

She was married an Indian physicist Vikram Sarabhai who is considered to be the Father of the Indian Space Program in 1942.

Conceiving one son, Kartikeya and a daughter Mallika who too went on to attain fame in dance and theatre.

She was the formal founder of Darpana in Ahmedabad in 1948.

A year later after that, she performed at the Théâtre national de Chaillot in Paris where she received a lot of critical acclaim.

Vikram Sarabhai allowed considerable freedom to her to develop her own potential.

They had a shaky marriage.

In the biographer by Amrita Shah, Vikram Sarabhai had a void in his personal life he sought to fill it by dedicating himself to applying science for social good.

Mrinalini Sarabhai passed away at 97 yrs old.