- Joe Daly
February 23, 2019
Gina Lalli died on 16 February 2019 in Austin, Texas, after an extended illness.
Gina was born in Binghamton, New York. Her intrepid nature drove her after initial Bharatanatyam lessons with Nala Najan (a student of Muthukumaran Pillai) in New York City to India where she shared a time of vigorous training in the 1950’s with Gina Blau under Chokkalingam Pillai. Subsequent travel to India and chance path-crossings brought her to learn Kathak, first from Vikram Singh and then over an extended time from Birju Maharaj. She credited her acquaintance with and profound admiration for T. Balasaraswathi for encouragement to keep dancing and enjoyed a close friendship with Bala’s brother T. Ranganathan. She also trained under Nageswara Rao on the veena and learned to play pakhawaj and tabla when she went to Lucknow and Delhi.
Gina was a bridge. Her place in not only the dance world, but also other performing arts that include acting and abstract movement discipline will be only partially comprehended by any of her specialist cohorts: few of us knew the full extent of her exploits, her ferocious appetite for learning, and her adventurous engagements. She was married for some time to playwright David Mark and remained active in Austin’s theater scene and in film as actor and costumer. She studied with Etienne Decroux when he was in New York and the seminal movement taxonomy of his “Corporeal Mime” became powerfully effective as she applied it in her extended Bharatanatyam and Kathak teaching career.
Gina left behind a significant collection of audio archives, mostly music for dance, many tracks personally recorded by her in the 1950’s and 1960’s in India. She also left a valuable and vibrant legacy of links between dancers, dance masters, musicians, directors and playwrights.
J. Daly is a student of Gina Lalli and K.P. Kittappa Pillai.
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