Obits 2020 (dance, music, theater)
Critic, dance scholar and historian and an ardent rasika of the fine arts who lived life king size, Dr. Sunil Kothari passed away of cardiac arrest in a Delhi hospital at 9.15am on December 27, 2020 after complications post Covid recovery. He was 87 and had dedicated a major part of his life to the cause of dance through his research works and writings.
Born on 20 December 1933 in Mumbai, Sunil Kothari qualified as a Chartered Accountant before turning to the study of Indian dance. His researches in Bhagavata Mela Natakams, Kuchipudi and Kuravanji earned for him a Ph.D. from the M.S. University, Vadodara in 1977. For his researches in the dance sculptures of medieval temples of North Gujarat, he was awarded a D. Litt by Rabindra Bharati University, Calcutta in 1986. He learnt Bharatanatyam from gurus T. Kuppaiah Pillai and Kalyanasundaram Pillai, and Kathak from Badri Prasad. He authored more than 20 books including Sattriya Dances of Assam, New Directions in Indian Dance, and also on Bharatanatayam, Odissi, Chhau, Kathak, Kuchipudi, and Photo Biographies of Uday Shankar and Rukmini Devi Arundale. He was a dance critic of the Times of India group of publications for 40 years. Dr.Kothari held the Uday Shankar Chair in Rabindra Bharati University, and taught in the Dance Department of New York University as a Fulbright Professor. He served as a member of the International Dance Council of UNESCO and World Dance Alliance Asia-Pacific. He wrote for the Sruti monthly, The Hindu and Asian Age and had his own column in the dance portal narthaki.com.
Dr. Kothari received the Emeritus Fellowship of the Department of Culture, Govt of India. He has been honored with the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1995), the Gaurav Puraskar from the Gujarat Sangeet Natak Akademi (2000), Padma Shri from the Govt of India (2001), and the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Dance Critics Association, New York (2011). Sunil Kothari was elected Fellow of Sangeet Natak Akademi for his contribution to Indian dance as a scholar. He was last engaged in penning his autobiography in Gujarati and English.
As a person who has witnessed dance history in the making over six decades, a storehouse of knowledge with dates and anecdotes at his beck and call, Dr. Kothari’s demise is a big loss to the dance fraternity. His contributions remain unparalleled and his presence will be sorely missed.
Bangalore based Guru G.S. RAJALAKSHMI, disciple of V.C. Lokaiah, passed away due to pneumonia and Covid, on December 17, 2020 aged 80. She was the director of Nataraja Nruthya Shala and was recently honored in Oct 2020 with the Kadhambari Lifetime Achievement Award.
MB Narasimhan, husband of dance vocalist P Rama, passed away on Dec 17, 2020.
A pioneer and icon of Indian contemporary dance, ASTAD DEBOO is no more (July 13, 1947 - Dec 10, 2020). He passed away after a brief illness in Mumbai in the early hours of Dec 10, 2020.
Born in 1947 in Navsari, Gujarat, Astad Deboo initially received training in Kathak under Guru Prahlad Das in Calcutta and in Kathakali under Guru E K Panicker. Later, he attended the London School of Contemporary Dance learning Martha Graham's modern dance technique and learnt Jose Limon's technique in New York. He trained with Pina Bausch in the Wuppertal Dance Company, Germany and with Alison Chase of the Pilobolus Dance Company. Along with these and other experiences with dance companies in Japan and Indonesia, he created a dance theatre style of his own which successfully assimilates Indian and western techniques. He experimented with a variety of forms, themes, concepts and performance spaces and collaborated with other dancers, composers and designers to create innovative works of aesthetic value.
Deboo choreographed for a few film directors like Mani Ratnam, MF Husain and Vishal Bhardwaj. He worked with deaf theatre companies in India, USA, Mexico and Hong Kong and collaborated with drummers of Manipur. In 2002, he founded the Astad Deboo Dance Foundation which provided creative training to marginalised sections, including the differently abled. Always on the move, Astad personally coordinated his programs, which stretched across 5 continents. He received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1995 and Padma Shri in 2007. He leaves behind a formidable legacy of unforgettable performances combined with an unswerving dedication to his art, matched only by his loving heart that gained him thousands of friends and a vast number of admirers.
YOG SUNDER DESAI, founder of Indian Revival Group, passed away peacefully on November 27, 2020, in New Delhi. He was 99. Connected with the national movement, he ranks amongst the pioneers who ventured into the world of Indian dance in the pre independence era. Yog Sundar was born on July 16, 1921 in Limdi as the son of Darbar Gopaldas Desai, Prince of Gujarat, but was brought up under Gandhian principles.
He learnt Kathakali, Krishnanattam and Mohiniattam in Kerala; in Shantiniketan he learnt painting under the legendary Nand Lal Bose, Manipuri dance from Guru Thambam Thamba, Kathak from Pt. Bhure Lal. He began his dance career in 1945 and founded the Indian Revival Group in 1948. Yog Sunder devoted his entire life to the propagation of India’s rich cultural heritage - its folk & classical dance forms, regional music & costume, mythology & literature.
Yog Sundar married Geetashri in 1965 and had a daughter Papiha, who is a dancer and director of the group, and three sons Pallav, Pavan and Prashant who also perform with the group.
A Life in Dance - Celebrating 99 years of Yog Sunder Desai
Yog Sunder: A true Prince of Dance
- Ashish Mohan Khokar, narthaki.com
An extraordinary story of a prince of Gujarat: Dancer Yog Sundar
- Sunil Kothari, The Asian Age
Veteran artiste and Bharatanatyam Guru K. J. Seetha (78), younger sister of the legendary K. J. Sarasa, passed away on Nov 20, 2020. She was the first disciple of Guru Swamimalai S. K. Rajarathinam Pillai and a pillar of support for Sarasa Teacher and all the students at Sarasalaya.
Acclaimed vocalist for Kathak and Odissi for more than four decades, DEBASHIS SARKAR passed away on October 23, 2020.
Debashis Sarkar was born and raised in a musical family. In his early years he trained in classical and semi-classical music with a number of renowned artistes including Sukhendu Goswami, Ustad Sagiruddin Khan and Sukumar Mitra. He received his foundational training in Hindustani classical vocal music with Ustad Ghulam Mohammad Khan. For more than four decades, Debashis was a highly sought after artiste amongst India’s classical dancers. He has accompanied some of India’s finest performers including Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra, Pt Birju Maharaj, Pt Chitresh Das, Pt Vijay Shankar, and Pt Rammohan Mishra.
Debashis was a core member of the Chitresh Das Dance Company’s musical ensemble for over 15 years participating in the composition and performance of full-length musical scores for dance productions such as Darbar, Shiva, Pancha Jati, Sita Haran, East as Center and Sampurnam. He was also a popular performer of light classical music including ghazals, thumris and bhajans. He was proficient in a range of percussion instruments, having studied tabla under Pt Hiralal Mishra. Debashis was a resident artist with the Leela Dance Collective. His passion for music made him a sought after lecturer and visiting faculty member at numerous educational institutions around the globe.
Dr. B VENKATARAMAN (1925-2020)
Critic/scholar Leela Venkataraman is bereaved. She lost her husband of 67 years, Dr. B Venkataraman, on Oct 20, 2020. He was 95. Well versed in Archaeology and Epigraphy, with his father Prof. Balasubrahmanyam, Dr. Venkataraman co-authored four volumes on Chola Temples. As an IAS officer, he refurbished the Museum and Manuscripts Library at Bhubaneswar, apart from renovating and conserving, among others, the earliest known structural temples in Orissa viz., Lakhmanesvar, Satrughnesvar and Bharatesvar. A Doctor of Literature (D. Litt), he held important government assignments such as Chief Secretary in the State of Orissa, and Secretary (Tourism & Civil Aviation) to the Government of India.
Our heartfelt condolences to the whole family.
Melattur S Natarajan, President and Chairman of the Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Jayanti Bhagavata Mela Natya Nataka Sangam, Melattur, Tamilnadu, breathed his last on October 15, 2020. He was the driving force in keeping the Bhagavata Mela tradition alive for more than six decades by dedicating his life to it, hosting the annual ten day festival every May in Melattur. This year would have been the 80th edition of the festival.
Born on Nov 30, 1943 in Melattur, in Thanjavur district of Tamil Nadu, Natarajan was the grandson of the pioneer of the Bhagavata Mela theatre, V. Ganesa Iyer, who was responsible for its resurrection in the 1930s. He trained in this theatre form under his illustrious father G. Swaminathan, as well as other eminent teachers including Balu Bhagavatar, K. Ramani Iyer, and G. Krishnamurthy Sarma. He received training in nritta under the Bharatanatyam gurus Kittappa Pillai and Pandanallur Shanmugasundaram Pillai.
Though employed in Dubai as an engineer, he worked untiringly round the year for the cause of Bhagavata Mela to keep alive the tradition handed down by his family, spending most of his salaried earnings for the cause. From the age of 14, Natarajan took up performing leading heroine roles. From the age of 24, he started choreographing and directing the Bhagavata Mela natakams. He enriched the natakams by meticulous improvisation of the techniques and presentation. With his command over abhinaya and nritta, Natarajan excelled in his portrayal of heroines such as Leelavati in Prahlada Charitam, Chandramati in Harishchandra Natakam, Usha in Usha Parinayam, Mohini in Rukmangadha and Rukmini from Rukmini Kalyanam. From 1990, he started performing male roles and was known for his prowess in the roles of Ravana, Bhasmasura, Bhishma and Dasaratha. He recovered several plays of Venkatarama Sastry which had been lost to the Bhagavata Mela theatre, and staged most of them. He involved young people in his natakams, and trained many artistes like N Srikanth and Vijay Madhavan. On the music front also he recruited able musicians. This led to a brilliant combination of a dedicated and talented team of Bhagavatas and dancers. Natarajan was honoured with the Kalaimamani award from the Tamil Nadu Eyal Isai Nataka Manram and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for his service to the Bhagavata Mela tradition.
A brillant Kuchipudi dancer and choreographer, Sobha Naidu (1956 - 14 October 2020) passed away at the age of 64 at Hyderabad after a brief illness. Born in Anakapalli town in Andhra Pradesh, Sobha Naidu became a prominent disciple of Guru Vempati Chinna Satyam. With his troupe, she gave several performances in India and abroad as a lead artiste. She especially excelled in the roles of Satyabhama and Padmavati. She choreographed over 80 solo numbers and several dance dramas. Sobha served as the principal of Srinivasa Kuchipudi Art Academy in Hyderabad that was started in 1980.
Some of her remarkable presentations include Vipranarayana, Kalyana Srinivasam, Sri Krishna Saranam Mama, Vijayosthuthe Naari, Chandalika, Ksheera Saagara Madhanam, Sarvam Sai Mayam, Jagadaananda Kaaraka, Girija Kalyanam, Swami Vivekananda, Navarasa Natabamini etc.
Sobha Naidu has been honored with Padma Shri (2001), Nritya Choodamani award (1982), Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1991), Nritya Kala Siromani award (1996), NT Rama Rao Award (1998), Nrityavihar by Sur Sringar Samsad (1991), Telugu University Puraskara Award by Telugu University, Hamsa Award by State Government of Andhra Pradesh etc.
She is survived by husband Arjun Rao and daughter Sai Shivaranjani.
Bharatanatyam Guru VS Ramamoorthy (Sept 20, 1920 - Oct 2, 2020) passed away at the ripe old age of 101 in Hyderabad. He received his training in Bharatanatyam from Natyacharya Dandayuthapani Pillai. His first dance school 'Sri Devi Nritya Niketan' was started in Madras in 1966. After moving to Hyderabad, Guru Ramamoorthy established 'Sri Rama Nataka Niketan' in 1970 and rendered yeoman service to the exacting training and propagation of Bharatanatyam in the twin cities of Secunderabad and Hyderabad. His 75 years of dedicated service to Bharatanatyam as a devoted artiste and teacher, was seminal, continuous, and impeccable. He is survived by his wife and daughter Manjula Ramaswamy who continues to take forward the tradition by teaching.
Guru VS Ramamoorthy (1920 - 2020)
- Ananda Shankar Jayant
Bharatanatyam Guru Rajee Narayan (Aug 19, 1931 - Sept 25, 2020) passed away aged 90.
She was a rare combination of guru, musician, composer and choreographer, with the unique distinction of teaching not only Bharatanatyam, but also Carnatic Music, Natyasastra and Nattuvangam. She established her institution Nritya Geethanjali in Mumbai in 1965. Many of her students run their own institutions all over the world.
Rajee Narayan has served as board member of the University of Mumbai for over two decades and as the external examiner for the Bachelors and Masters degrees in the Fine Arts courses (BFA and MFA) and examiner of thesis for Ph.D.
Her first book of 25 songs for Bharatanatyam, Nritya Geeta Mala, was released in 1985. In the following years, she brought out a second volume of 31 songs and other books. She became one of the few women Vaggeyakara-s of this century, to write exclusively for Bharatanatyam.
Some of her awards include Maharashtra Rashtra Sanskriti Puraskar by the govt of Maharashtra (1996-1997), MS Subbulakshmi Best Teacher of the Year Award by Shanmukhananda Fine Arts (2006) and Tagore Akademi Puraskar by Central Sangeet Natak Akademi (2011).
Her son Shyamsundar Narayan passed away on 1st September 2020.
Memories of a loving guru
- Bhanu Kumar
Arts scholar Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan passed away at the age of 91 in New Delhi (Dec 25, 1928 - Sept 16, 2020). She was a leading scholar of Indian classical dance, art, architecture, and art history. She was trained in Kathak by Pt Acchan Maharaj, in Manipuri by Guru Amobi Singh, in Bharatanatyam by Guru Meenakshi Sundaram Pillai and in Odissi by Surendranath Jena.
She was formerly a member of parliament and also served as Secretary to the Government of India in the Ministry of Education, where she was responsible for the establishment of a large number of national institutions of higher education. She served as the founding director of the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts. She was former President of India International Centre (IIC) and an IIC Life Trustee and the Chairperson of the IIC International Research Division. Vatsyayan was the author of many books, including Dance Sculpture in Sarangapani Temple (1982), Indian Classical Dance (1992), The Square and the Circle of Indian Arts (1997), Bharata: The Natya Sastra (1996), Traditions in Indian Folk Dance (1987), and Dance in Indian Painting (2004).
She was honored with John D. Rockefeller 3rd Award for outstanding professional achievement by the Asian Cultural Council in 1992, 'Outstanding Contribution to Dance Research' award by Congress on Research in Dance (CORD) in 1998, Rajiv Gandhi National Sadbhavana Award in 2000 and Padma Vibhushan in 2011.
Kapila Vatsyayan - My lifetime mentor
- Dr.Utpal K Banerjee
Kapila Vatsyayan: The keeper of Indian art, culture and education
- Dr. Arshiya Sethi
Tribute to Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan
- V.P. Dhananjayan
My tribute to my Guru
- Navina Jafa
Nagalakshmi Rajaratnam, wife of late illustrious Guru Swamimalai Rajaratnam Pillai, passed away on the morning of August 29, 2020.
Yakshagana presenter and researcher Dr.N.Narayana Shetty passed away on August 26, 2020 at Mangalore, aged 86. He was a Tulu/Kannada scholar and a master of Chandassu from Coastal Karnataka. He was fondly called Chandobrahma (The Brahma of prosody). Dr.Shetty was born on Feb 1, 1934 to Elathuruguthu Achchanna Shetty and Nandikoor Chinkriguthu Kamalakshi. His book 'Yakshagana Chandobudhi' secured him a literary doctorate from Hampi University. He has written many Yakshagana prasangas including 'Sorkuda Siriginde.' The famous Yakshagana prasanga 'Shri Kateel Kshetra Mahatme' was written by Dr. Shetty when he was just 14 years old. He received the 'Parthisubba' award and was the first recipient of Yakshagana Award.
Celebrated Hindustani classical vocalist of the Mewati gharana, Pt Jasraj passed away in the US at the age of 90 (28 Jan 1930 - 17 Aug 2020). He was honored with the Padma Shri (1975), Padma Bhushan (1990) and Padma Vibhushan (2000).
One of India's leading post-Independence theatre directors, an eminent drama teacher and a patron of the arts, Ebrahim Alkazi (18 Oct 1925 - 4 Aug 2020) passed away aged 95. He received the Sangeet Natak Akademi for direction (1962), Padma Shri (1966), Padma Bhushan (1991) and Padma Vibushan (2010).
Mukund Lath, scholar, exponent of Mewati gharana and prominent cultural historian known for his writings on music, dance, aesthetics and culture of India, passed away on August 6, 2020. He was 82. An author of several books and articles, he was honored by the Government of India in 2010 with the Padma Shri.
Eminent dancer and choreographer Amala Shankar (born on June 27, 1919) passed away peacefully in her sleep, at Kolkata on July 24, 2020. She was 101 years old. She did the lead role in her husband Uday Shankar's landmark film 'Kalpana' in 1948. A self taught painter, her artistry was often used in Uday Shankar's works. Amala Shankar started the Uday Shankar India Culture Centre in Kolkata in 1965. She was honoured by the Government of India with the Padma Bhushan in 1991. In 2011, she was awarded Banga Vibhushan by the Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government. She received honorary doctorates from Rabindra Bharati University (1999) and Presidency University (2016) and Sangeet Natak Akademi Tagore Ratna award for her contribution to dance in 2012.
Amala Shankar leaves us with a promise to dance on beyond the seven seas
- Urmimala Sarkar Munsi
How Amala Shankar witnessed the evolution of modern Indian dance and shaped it with her enthusiasm for life
- VR Devika
Kuchipudi dancer/guru Munukuntla Sambasiva, a disciple of Guru Vempati Chinna Satyam, died of Covid in Hyderabad on July 10, 2020 at the age of 60. He also had training in theater and at his school Nishumbita Natya Jnanapeet, many dancers honed their talents. Sambasiva authored a number of books on dance including Natyamanjari, Gateway to Kuchipudi, Hasthabhinayam, Kuchipudi Natyamitram, to name a few. Classical dance students and researchers have benefitted greatly from Sambasiva's research works.
Dr. Subhashini Chandrasekharan, Kalaimamani awardee, Assistant Professor, Nattuvangam Department of Annamalai University, Chidambaram, passed away on June 4, 2020, aged 50. She was the third daughter-in-law of Tanjai Arunachalam Pillai, a senior student of Guru Indra Rajan and has accompanied Dr. Vyjayanthimala Bali on nattuvangam.
Sitarist Pt. Partho Das passed away in Delhi at the age of 70 in early May 2020. He has played sitar in Satyajit Ray's 1977 Hindi film Shatranj Ke Khilari (The Chess Player) under Birju Maharaj. He was a professor at Sriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra, was associated with Kathak Kendra, New Delhi and retired as a music teacher from Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, New Delhi. Partho Das has composed musical scores for the productions of Bharatiya Kala Kendra, Triveni Kala Sangam, Natya Ballet Centre, Natya Institute of Choreography and items for the Kathak Kendra. His score for the documentary 'Manas, Chitrankan Evam Gayan' was awarded the best composition of the year in the category of dance and music. He received 'Sangeet Bhushan' award (2017) for his outstanding contribution in the field of Indian classical music.
Myrta Barvie (13 January 1933 - 15 May 2020) was a pioneer in spreading the knowledge of the classical dances of India in Argentina and Latin America. Apart from being a ballet dancer, she had learnt Bharatanatyam at Kalakshetra, Odissi from Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra and Kuchipudi from Vempati Chinna Satyam. She passed away on May 15, 2020 at Argentina.
Phillip Zarrilli (1947-2020), actor, director, author, acting coach and pedagogue, passed away on April 28, 2020. He is internationally known for training actors through Asian martial arts and yoga. He trained in Kathakali from M.P.Sankaran Namboothiri, and in Kalaripayattu from Govindankutty Nair. Between 1976 and 1993 he lived in Kerala for a total of seven years - each trip devoted to undergoing intensive training in Kalarippayattu. In 1988 he was gifted the traditional pitham (stool) representing mastery by Gurukkal Govindankutty Nair. In 1999 he moved to the UK where he established The Llanarth Group and a private studio (Tyn-y-parc CVN Kalari/Studio) in Wales. When the new CVN Kalari Sangham was founded in 2004, the Tyn-y-parc CVN Kalari in Llanarth, was certified as an official kalari of the Sangham under Zarrilli's guidance as gurukkal.
Zarrilli authored the first authoritative study of Kalarippayattu, When the Body Becomes All Eyes: paradigms and practices of power in Kalarippayattu. His book Psychophysical Acting: an intercultural approach after Stanislavski is on the process of training actors through a psychophysical approach based on Asian martial arts and yoga published in 2009 by Routledge Press (London). Zarrilli is also noted for his work with Indian dancers / choreographers like Gitanjali Kolanad and Stella Subbiah.
Theatreperson Phillip Zarrilli on adopting and adapting intercultural techniques in his teachings and works
- Renu Ramanath, The Hindu
Zarrilli's work embodied silence
- Navtej Johar, The Hindu
Kolkata theater legend Usha Ganguli passed away of cardio respiratory failure on the morning of April 23, 2020 in Kolkata after a prolonged illness. She was 75. She was an actor, a fine director and the moving force behind Rangakarmee Kolkata that she founded in 1976, known for non-conformist productions like Mahabhoj, Rudali, Court Martial and Antaryatra. Ganguli is credited for introducing a new form of alternative Hindi theatre in Bengal, thereby creating a new audience too. She received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for Direction in 1998. She was honoured by the West Bengal Government as the best actress for the play Gudia Ghar. The state government conferred her with the Girish Samman honour in 2016.
Theatre veteran Usha Ganguli of Rangakarmee passed away this morning. So many memories...
My introduction to Ibsen through her Gudia Ghar (eons ago!)
Rudali, Mukti with Ketaki Dutta, Antar Yatra, Himmat Mai (Mother Courage), various plays on Manto...
Her friendship with my own Guru Rani Karnaa
Her rocky but determined collaboration with Habib Tanvir on Bisarjan
The Rangakarmee space - Binodini-Keya Manch - a converted market hall that has welcomed so many artistes.
Her regular WhatsApp messages - Rangakarmee was celebrating 43 years!
Her enthusiastic, edgy voice over the phone eager to share news, eager to invite everyone to the next thing, eager to keep going, keep creating...
If Hindi theatre has a place in Calcutta, much of it is due to her untiring efforts over nearly five decades.
There is a huge hole now - added to the many that are ripping our fabric apart.
- Vikram Iyengar
Beppe Chierichetti, Kathakali actor from TTB (Teatro Tascabile di Bergamo) in Bergamo, Italy, passed away on April 7, 2020 aged 71.
Theatre personality and renowned light designer Jaydev Das passed away in Cuttack, Odisha, on March 27, 2020. He was 60.
Kuchipudi guru Bhagavatula Yagna Narayana Sarma passed away on January 12, 2020 at his residence in Vijayawada. Born on 5 September 1931 in Kuchipudi, Andhra Pradesh, Bhagavatula Yagna Narayana Sarma received his initial training in Kuchipudi under Vedantam Raghavaiah, and was later a student of Chinta Krishnamurthy and Vempati Chinna Satyam. Commencing his career as a performer in traditional Yakshaganas, he soon received acclaim for his role as Lohitasya in 'Harishchandra,' Lavudu in 'Lava Kusa,' Prahlada in the play of the same name, and Narada in 'Gayopakhyanam.' In 1952, he established his own institution of Kuchipudi dance, the Shri Nritya Art Academy in Vijaywada, where he trained numerous students in Kuchipudi dance and dance-dramas. He gained wide respect both as performer and teacher. Sarma has been featured in several documentary films on Kuchipudi Yakshagana. He has also acted in the film 'Rahasyam' directed by his guru Vedantam Raghavaiah.
For his service to Kuchipudi dance, Bhagavatula Yagna Narayana Sarma received the central Sangeet Natak Akademi Tagore Puraskar, apart from innumerable awards from the Andhra Pradesh government including the Andhra Pradesh Department of Culture Award (2006), award of the Potti Sriramulu Telugu University (2009), and a cash award of the Andhra Pradesh State Cultural Council (2011). His son Bhagavatula Venkatarama Sarma is a worthy recipient of his father's knowledge of Kuchipudi and is today one of the most sought after Kuchipudi gurus in Vijayawada. The Bhagavatula melam family deeply regrets this loss to the Kuchipudi fraternity.
Seniormost Odissi dancer, actor in Odia cinema, educationist and scholar Dr. Minati Mishra passed away on January 6, 2020 in Switzerland, aged 88.
Born in 1929 in Cuttack, Odisha, Dr. Mishra started learning Odissi dance and music at an early age under the tutelage of Kabichandra Kalicharan Patnayak and Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra. In 1954, she joined Kalakshetra of Rukmini Devi Arundale, on a scholarship from the Government of Odisha, and learned Bharatanatyam for one year. Minati Mishra was awarded a doctoral degree in Indology from the Philipp University of Marburg, Germany. From 1964 to 1989 she was the Principal of the Utkal Sangeet Mahavidyalaya, Bhubaneswar. She was also a Grade A artiste at All India Radio. She was a recipient of Sangeet Prabhakar title for Hindustani vocal music, the 1975 Orissa Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, the Kalinga Shastriya Sangeet Parishad Award, Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 2000, and the Padma Shri in 2012.