Legendary classical dancer, choreographer, teacher, author and environmentalist Mrinalini Sarabhai would have celebrated her 100th birthday on Friday, had she been alive.
To mark this day, famous search engine Google paid tribute to Padma Bhushan
recipient bharatanatyam dancer Mrinalini Sarabhai, through a doodle on the occasion.
Today’s Doodle, illustrated by Sudeepti Tucker, depicts Sarabhai with her signature
parasol, standing proudly in the auditorium of Darpana Academy of Performing Arts where her students are dancing on stage.
Fondly known as Amma, Sarabhai, who quickly developed her own technique, spirit,
and strength by training at a young age, studying both the South Indian classical dance form of Bharatanatyam and the classical dance-drama of Kathakali.
One of the few classical dancers trained in more than one form, Sarabhai was able to quickly build a career in choreography and teaching. Despite seeing the continuous evolution of dance forms over her multi-decade career, she was inspired to choreograph more than three hundred dance dramas with a strong base of classical tradition behind them.
In 1949, she founded the Darpana Academy and toured the world with her choreographic productions. The small dance academy grew to become not only a study center for diverse art forms, but one that used the power of arts to bring about positive change to the critical issues facing society.
Over the years, the Darpana Academy expanded, teaching not just Bharatanatyam, Mohiniattam, Kathakali and Kuchipudi but also music, Gujarati folk theatre and puppetry, giving rise to performance groups that made a name for themselves.
The range of concerns communicated through Darpana’s productions also expanded, including issues of women’s empowerment, humanism, communalism and intolerance, caste-based discrimination and environmental degradation.
Sarabhai was born on this day in 1918 in Kerala, and began dancing at a very young age. She was guided under and inspired by none other than Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore.
The dance dramas created by Tagore brought out the natural talent in her to choreograph and showed her immense range and innovation.
It was in 1942 that 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) and one of the greatest minds of India.
It was a true marriage of art and intellect. Vikram Sarabhai supported Mrinalini Sarabhai in her ambition for attaining perfection in dance even when the society at that time did not consider dance a “respectable” career for women.