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Mrinalini Sarabhai, renowned dancer and choreographer and founder of Darpana, is single-handedly responsible for taking classical Indian dance beyond the shores of India and making Bharatnatyam a dance form that is revered and respected throughout the world.
Born in 1918 in Chennai, Mrinalini began dancing at a very young age. Under the guidance and encouragement of teachers such as Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, Mrinalini's extraordinary talent for both creating and performing dance began to take shape. It was the dance dramas that Tagore created and asked her to choreograph that her innate and immense capacity for innovation and experiment was recognized and allowed to blossom. After a short stint in America, where she studied in the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, she came back to India to seriously pursue a career in dance where, along with Bharatanayam, she discovered the pristine energy of Kathakali and used it extensively in her compositions.
In 1942, she married Vikram Sarabhai, a prominent scientist and visionary, founder of the Indian Space Program and co-founder of the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad (IIMA), who was tremendously supportive of her dedication to dance, at a time when dance was not regarded as a “respectable” profession for a well-educated young woman.
In 1949, she danced at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris, where the formidable critics of Paris were unanimous in their praise. After this performance, invitations to perform from countries all around the world came flooding in. She and her troupe together elevated classical Indian dance to a new level of international recognition, using her art to build bridges between countries and cultures that were little known to eachother. At one of the embassies she visited during her tour of South America in 1951, a dignitary told her, “You have done in two hours what no embassy is able to do in two years – made India beautiful to these people.”
“Pathfinder” by Nandan Kudhyadi:
Download Mrinalini Sarabhai's autobiography 'The Voice of the Heart' from this link