Centenary tribute to dance legend today

Centenary tribute to dance legend today

The festival will celebrate Mrinalini Sarabhai’s contribution to women empowerment

Mrinalini Sarabhai

The International Arts and Cultural Foundation, based in Bengaluru, is hosting a festival to mark the birth centenary of legendary dancer Mrinalini Sarabhai today.

At the ‘All Women World Arts Festival,’ leading Bengaluru-based dancers Yamini Muthanna, Rukumini Vijaykumar, Dr Archana Rao and Shreema Upadhaya will perform at the National Gallery of Modern Art auditorium. They will pay a tribute to Mrinalini Sarabhai in their distinctive styles.

Photojournalist Srivatsa Shandilya, who heads the foundation, says he took a cue from a Google doodle that paid a tribute to Mrinalini to approach her daughter Mallika Sarabhai. She agreed to be the guest of honour.

Bengaluru holds a special place for the Sarabhais as it was in this city that Mrinalini learned Bharatanatyam under the guidance of Muthukumar Pillai, and also performed with the legendary Ram Gopal. She also met her space scientist-husband Dr Vikram Sarabhai in Bengaluru.

An exponent of Bharatanatyam and Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga, Yamini Muthanna is excited about being associated with Darpana Academy, founded by Mrinalini, as she had grown up hearing about it and gained an insight into the personality of Mrinalini.

“I have heard of her unique choreography of musical concepts through movement and hope to understand it someday,” she says. Yamini rues she did not have the good fortune of meeting Mrinalini but says she is deeply inspired by her body of work.

As part of her tribute to a guru like Mrinalini, Yamini has chosen a piece titled ‘Guru Pranam’ with verses picked from the Vedas, Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita. “It is a part of my full production ‘Manas’. My choreography has a spiritual outline performed within the framework of Bharatanatyam. I have used a blend of my other expertise, yoga, in the choreography to make the presentation unique.

Sanoopura Nrithyalaya’s Dr Archana Rao too is in awe of Mrinalini’s contemporary ideas and delicate incorporation of current affairs in her productions. “Her concern about society, women empowerment, and environment beautifully carved into dance forms that could easily reach the masses. Her innovative stage techniques, group choreography and vigorous dance movements are really admirable,” Archana says.

Archana’s performance will be a famous Kannada composition by Vyasathirtha - Krishna Nee Begane Baro’ which Mrinalini propagated in Ahmedabad and other places of North India. Archana had watched a recording of Mrinalini using her eyes effectively to convey the love for Krishna and hopes to replicate that.

Archana says that Mrinalini created a social revolution through classical dance with her innovative ideas. “Using puppetry and plays, she worked towards imparting knowledge to rural women,” adds Archana.

Actress and dancer Rukumini Vijaykumar believes Mrinalini was a trailblazer as she fought the stigma attached to dance.

As part of the tribute, dance historian Sunil Kothari will introduce PSBT’s documentary film ‘Mrinalini Sarabhai, the artist and her art’, directed by Mallika Sarabhai and 
Yadavan Chandran. The film will be screened at 4 pm.

Mrinalini’s daughter Mallika Sarabhai will speak about Mrinalini’s contribution to dance.

On stage

Venue: National Gallery of Modern Art auditorium, # 49, Palace Road, Manikyavelu Mansion, Vasanthnagar.
Date: June 14 at 4 pm.

Entry is free.