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Luise Elcanness Scripps
- Ashish Mohan Khokar
Photo courtesy: Aniruddha Knight

September 27, 2015

Luise Elcanness Scripps (Nov 22, 1924 to Sept 11, 2015), patron, artiste, India lover and main supporter of Balasaraswati's art in USA (and of her family art as represented by Lakshmi, Aniruddha and Douglas Knight), passed away last week in USA. She with her husband Samuel Scripps started many initiatives on west, then east coast to help Indian arts and artistes. She was instrumental in giving Bharat Ratna Ravi Shankar, Alla Rakha, Nikhil Banerjee and Ustad Ali Akbar Khan a foothold in America when the Scripps created the Eastern Arts Centre in California in the late 1960s.

Many musicians and dancers of India made USA their home thanks to their generous though quiet patronage. They were on board of Paul Taylor Dance Co., ADF (American Dance Festival), BAM (Brooklyn Academy for Music) and endowed several chairs and institutions like the Lincoln Centre Dance Collection, Balasaraswati School and Wesleyan University.

Luise Scripps was fun loving soul who could laugh at life and always carried joy in her heart for art. Her word mattered in high art circles of USA. In her end year, she worked relentlessly for Bala's memory and collected much material for a definitive book on her. For some time now, she had been ailing due to age related illnesses and passed away in Upstate New York. She is survived by her son Sebastien and daughter Wendy. She will be remembered for long.

Ashish Mohan Khokar is a dance historian, biographer, critic and author. He edits and publishes the dance yearbook Attendance.


We mark the passing of Luise Scripps in New York. Who was she? And why is she so important to be mentioned here? It was Luise Scripps who first met Balasaraswati when she visited Berkley, California in 1962. The following year she convinced her husband, millionaire Sam Scripps, to set up a foundation to invite artistes like Bala and others from India. It was with the partnership of Robert Brown that Balasaraswati first came to perform in the USA and subsequently every year for almost 18 years. Today there are several students of Balasaraswati who admit that their lives were forever changed with learning and interacting with the great artiste.

Without the devoted patronage of Luise Scripps, Balasaraswati, her daughter Lakshmi and grandson Aniruddha would not have been able to establish themselves with residencies, as supportive teaching environment and audience for their unique art in the USA. Wesleyan University hosts the largest archive of dance and music by Bala and her family. In the passing of Louise Scripps, Indian dance has lost a great rasika.

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