2009
Kathak dancer Bireshwar Gautam was murdered by 24-year-old actor Kush Agnihotri in Mumbai on December 12, 2009. He was 42. Biru's body was found lying at his residence with some marks on the neck, and was found by one of his students, who was trying to contact him since morning. Biru headed the department of Kathak at the Akhil Bharatiya Gandharva Mahavidyalaya Vashi, in Navi Mumbai and the Sur Jhankar academy at the ISKON, Juhu. Tributes
"It is a tragic and untimely death. For those of us who knew him, Bireshwar was a rare talent as he excelled both as a Kathak dancer and a singer of Thumris. The world of classical dance has not only lost an excellent male dancer but we too have lost a friend who was a kind and warm hearted human being and a generous friend to many. To mark the day of his passing and to honour the memory of a good man and fine artiste, it is my humble suggestion that all of us close our respective institutions for one day, at individual convenience."
- Ratikant Mohapatra and Srjan family "Biru served his guru Damayanti Joshi selflessly and also his muse, Kathak. He organised Purush Dance Festivals and did much for Kathak in Mumbai. A fine dancer and teacher, he was an able representative of Mumbai's dance fraternity. A sad and tragic end and a loss to dance world."
- Ashish Mohan Khokar

After a long illness, Bharatanatyam guru Peria Sarada (born Sept 1, 1915) passed away at 3pm on November 4, 2009 at Chennai. She was 94. S Sarada came to Kalakshetra (Chennai) in 1939 as a young woman of 24, well acquainted with various works of art and advaita but still a non-entity. When she retired from Kalakshetra in 1985, she was acknowledged as a diligent scholar and a fine teacher, her name synonymous with the institution next only to Rukmini Devi and Sankara Menon.
Contact Sundari teacher: (91-44) - 24914044
http://www.narthaki.com/info/profiles/profil58.html

Prof. William Skelton, who took generations of Colgate University students on the India Study Group that he created and who founded the Colgate Concert Orchestra, passed away on September 23, 2009. He was 86. A bassoonist, he also became adept at playing Indian instruments, particularly the veena and nagaswaram. He was closely associated with the work of Bharatanatyam guru Sudharani Raghupathy.

Eminent artist Serbjeet Singh, husband of art critic Shanta Serbjeet Singh, passed away in Delhi on the morning of August 28, 2009. He is famous for his paintings on panoramic views of mountains.
http://blogs.thehindu.com/delhi/?p=27560


Bangalore based guru Sundari Santhanam, senior student of Padma Subrahmanyam, died of cancer, at 7.30pm on August 24, 2009. She was a specialist in Karanas, and has trained many senior dancers and young promising dancers. She received the Karnataka Kalashree Award of the Karnataka Sangeeta Nritya Academy on July 15, 2009.

American choreographer / dancer Merce Cunningham (April 16, 1919 - July 26, 2009) died in New York at age 90. He is credited by many with revolutionizing visual and performing arts. He formed the Merce Cunningham Dance Company in 1953 and choreographed nearly 200 works for the company, as well as over 800 site-specific choreographic works. He continued to dance with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company into the early 1990s when he was into his 80s. In April 2009, Cunningham celebrated his 90th birthday with the premiere of a new work, Nearly Ninety, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York. Also in 2009, the Cunningham Dance Foundation announced the Legacy Plan, a precedent-setting plan for the continuation of Cunningham's work and the celebration and preservation of his artistic legacy.

He has also worked in film and video, collaborating with filmmakers Charles Atlas and Elliot Caplan. Cunningham extended the frontiers of choreography for more than half a century, most recently with his use of the computer program Life Forms now called DanceForms. In 1993, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame at the National Museum of Dance in Saratoga Springs, NY. Cunningham has been honored with the Arts and Business Council Kitty Carlisle Hart Award (2002), the National Medal of Arts in a ceremony at the White House (1990), Laurence Olivier Award in 1985 for Best New Dance Production (Pictures), and Officer of the French Legion of Honor (2003). In 2000, he won the Nijinsky Special Prize (Monaco), the 2000 Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize, (New York, NY) and was named a "Living Legend" by the Library of Congress, Washington DC.


DK Pattammal, the doyenne of Carnatic music, popularly known as DKP, is no more. She was 90. She was perhaps the last among the Golden Female voices of Carnatic music, others being MS Subbalakshmi and ML Vasanthakumari, together also known as the 'Female Trinity.' Pattammal's demise on 16 July 2009 has created a vacuum in the field of Carnatic music. She was the recipient of prestigious awards like Padma Bushan (1971), Padma Vibushan (1999) and Sangita Kalanidhi (1970).
Pina Bausch (July 27, 1940 - June 30, 2009), the German choreographer and dancer, whose penultimate work Bamboo Blues was inspired by India, died of cancer in Wuppertal, Germany. She was 68. Her work broke down the boundaries between dance and theater, and pioneered a new direction for theatrical art. Bausch was the recipient of UK's Laurence Olivier Award and Japan's Kyoto Prize, while in 2008 the city of Frankfurt-am-Main awarded her its prestigious Goethe Prize.

Saraswathi Thiagarajan, best known by family and friends as Sarasi Raj, passed away in her Pierrefonds, QC home on Monday June 29, 2009. She was the founder/guru of the Peali Arpana Academy of Classical Dance, with locations in Montreal, Vancouver and Winnipeg.


Srjan's advisory board's member Srigopal, passed away on June 25, 2009. He was a great enthusiast of the performing arts and devoted to Odissi music and dance.

One of India's greatest dramatists, poet and actor Habib Tanvir (Sept 1, 1923 –June 8, 2009) passed away at Bhopal at the age of 85.
His most famous plays are Agra Bazar (written in 1954 but first staged in 1958, completing 50 years of stage presence in 2008) and Charandas Chor (1975) that's considered his masterpiece. He founded the Naya Theatre in 1959 in Bhopal. A pioneer in Hindi theatre, he is most known for his work with Chhattisgarhi tribals, bringing their stories, music, the Chhattisgarhi dialect and even untrained performers hailing from villages, to the contemporary stage. He went on to include indigenous performance forms such as nacha, to create not only a new theatrical language, but also milestones such as Charandas Chor, Gaon ka Naam Sasural, Mor Naam Damad and Kamdeo ka Apna Basant Ritu ka Sapna. Tanvir has also written several screenplays and appeared in a host of films, including Richard Attenborough's 'Gandhi.'
He has won several national and international awards, including the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1969), Padma Shri (1983), Kalidas Samman (1990), Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship (1996) and the Padma Bhushan (2002). He was nominated as a member of the Rajya Sabha (1972 -1978). His play 'Charandas Chor' got him the Fringe Firsts Award at Edinburgh International Drama Festival in 1982. It was included in the Hindustan Times list of 'India's 60 best works since Independence.'

Mysore S Rajaram, former Director of Kalakshetra, Chennai (1995-2005), passed away on June 1, 2009 in Bangalore. He was 85. He came to work in Kalakshetra after retiring from All India Radio. The grandson of Mysore Vasudevachar, Rajaram was a Carnatic musician and composer, who composed music for several Kalakshetra dance dramas like the last 3 parts of the Ramayana – Sabari Moksham, Choodamani Pradhanam and Maha Pattabhishekam.

N Bala Ganesan, husband of Uma Ganesan (Cleveland Cultural Alliance), passed away suddenly in New York on May 10, 2009.

Guru Moozhikkulam Kochukuttan Chakyar, renowned Koodiyattam artiste and Padma Shri award winner, died of a massive heart attack at 9.30pm on April 15, 2009. He was 81. He is survived by his sons Margi Madhu and Margi Narayanan.
Moozhikkulam Kochukuttan Chakyar was born in 1928 in the Ammannur Chakyar family. He studied under Kidangur Narayana Chakyar, Painkulam Rama Chakyar, Ammannoor Madhava Chakyar and Mani Madhava Chakyar. He was famous for his Vidushaka roles and for Prabandha Koothu. He was resident guru for nearly twenty years in Margi, Thiruvananthapuram. Kochukuttan Chakyar was the mukhya acharya of Nepathya in Moozhikkulam, Kerala.


Eminent Yakshagana exponent Keremane Shambhu Hegde passed away on February 3, 2009. He was 70. He died on the stage he loved, as he was playing the lead role of Rama in a play called 'Lava Kusha Kalaga' at Gunavante, a small village in Honnavara, Karnataka. His father Keremane Shivarama Hegde was a great Yakshagana artiste and he followed the northern style of Badagu Tittu. He was the director of Idagunji Mahaganapati Yakshagana Troupe founded by his father. He is survived by wife Gowramma, son Shivanand Hegde, a daughter, and elder brother Mahabal Hegde.

All the way my friend, to the singeing pain
And all the way out of it.
Come people, men women
To throng the pockets of warmth...
And out they go, some forever... To brave the cold...
Mr. Narendra Kumar Nayak (husband of Kathak dancer Rani Karnaa, Samskritiki Shreyaskar, Kolkata), passed away on January 8, 2009 at 5pm at the Kalinga Hospital, Bhubaneswar.

The great scholar and historian of Odissi Dance, Dr. Dhirendranath Pattnaik, passed away on January 1, 2009, at his Cuttack residence. Dr. Pattnaik was 75. He was the most important pillar, involved in the reconstruction and resurgence of Odissi. He traced the history of Odissi till the present form and brought out its birth and transformation through the years to its present position.