Uday Shankar| Pioneer of modern dance in India

World renowned Indian dancer and choreographer,Uday Shankasr was most known for adapting Western theatrical techniques to traditional Indian classical dance,imbued with elements of Indian classical,folk,and tribal dance,thus laying the roots of modern Indian dance,which he later popularized in India,Europe,and the United States in 1920s and 1930s and effectively placed Indian dance on the world map.

  Uday Shankar Chowdhury was born on 8 December,1900,in Udaipur,Rajasthan,to a Bengali family with origins in Narail (present Bangladesh).His father Shyam Shankar Chowdhury,a noted barrister,was employed with the Maharaja of Jhalawar in Rajasthan at the time of his eldest son's birth,while his mother Hemangini Davi,descended from a bengali zamindari family.His father was conferred the title,'Harchowdhury'by the Nawabs,but he preferred to use surname'Chowdhury'minus 'Har'.Uday's younger brothers were Rajendra Shankar,Debendra Shankar,Bhuqendra Shankar and Ravi Shankar,born in 1920,out of them Bhupendra died young in 1926.

Uday Shankar didn't have any formal training in any of the Indian classical dance forms,his presentations were creative.Though from a young age,he was exposed to both Indian classical and folk dances,as he was to ballet,during his styles together to create a new dance,which he called hi-dance.

           Soon his interaction with such artist grew and so did the idea to Indian dance in a contemporary form.The turning point came his way as a meeting with legendary Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova.She was looking for artists to collaborate on India based themes.This led to the creation of ballest based on Hindu themes,'Radha-Krishna',a duet with Anna,and 'Hindu Wedding',for inclusion in her production,'Oriental Impressions'.The ballet was presented at the Royal Opera House,Covent Garden,in London.Later he continued to conceive and choreograph ballets,like one based on Ajanta Caves frescoes,and in time his style of dance came to be known as 'hi dance'in those days,though later he called it 'Creative dance'.

           He had married amala shankar and they had a son Ananda Shankar in 1942,and a daughter Mamata Shankar born in 1955. While Ananda Shankar was a musician and music composer who trained with Dr.Lalmani Misra rather than his uncle,Ravi Shankar,and in time became known for his fusion music,encompassing both Western and Indian music styles.Mamata Shankar,a dancer like her parents,became a noted actress,Working in films by Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen,she also runs'Udayan Dance Company'in Kolkata,and travels extensive through the world.

           In 1962,he was awarded by Sangeet Natak Akademi,Indian's The National Academy for Music,Dance and Drama,with its highest award,the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship for lifetime achievement,and in 1971,the Govt.of India,awarded him with its second highest civilian award the Padma Vibhushan.


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