DANCING IN THE FAMILY: An Unconventional Memoir of Three Women  
by  Sukanya Rahman 
by Amritha Deborah Fenn 

January 2002 

Amritha Deborah Fenn, Public Relations Executive, provides a backgrounder on behalf of Harper Collins publishers on ‘Dancing in the Family’, which is the story of a totally unconventional family that is inseparably linked with the story of Indian dance from the 1920s on. 

About the Book 
Ragini Devi, an American woman from Minneapolis, was convinced she had been a Hindu in a previous life and was reincarnated to devote her life to Indian dance. She helped rescue ancient Indian classical dance forms threatened with extinction under British rule in India, and was instrumental in the revival of Kathakali dance, now one of the more familiar Indian styles.  Her daughter, Indrani Rahman, continued this pioneering effort.  She helped revive the long neglected Odissi dance and presented Indian classical dance throughout the world with her troupe of dancers and musicians.  Sukanya, granddaughter to Ragini and daughter to Indrani, carried on the family tradition by teaching and performing the Bharata Natyam, Odissi and Kuchipudi styles of Indian dance in the United States and other countries. In a historic performance in New York City shortly before Ragini Devi died, the three generations danced together, in what Ragini called "the climax of my life...seeing the pure tradition safeguarded by Indrani and  

Vastly amusing, candid and moving, Dancing in the Family is the story of a totally unconventional family that is inseparably linked with the story of Indian dance from the 1920s on. 

About the Author 
As a child, Sukanya Rahman secretly prayed that her family would "become normal".  This never happened.  Dance was, and remained, the family obsession.  Eventually, Sukanya too was swept up by the excitement of her mother's and grandmother's daily domestic life, thankful that her prayers had remained unanswered. Dancing in the Family is the story of how Sukanya's grandmother, born Esther Sherman in Petoskey, Michigan, transformed herself into Ragini Devi, classical Indian dancer, pioneer, and writer of the first book in English on the dance of India.  It is the story of her mother's struggle to shake off the "stigma" of becoming India's first "Miss India", in order to prove herself, as Indrani Rahman, as one of India's foremost classical Bharata Natyam and Odissi artistes.  It is also the story of Sukanya's own struggle to stay afloat in this family of dynamic, indomitable women. Written with rare honesty and humor about matters close to the heart, this is an insightful and fascinating look into the Indian dance scene from the 1920s on. More than 40 archival family photographs, dating from 1893, contribute to making the book a gem in the history of Indian dance. 

Sukanya Rahman was born in Calcutta in 1946.  Dancer and visual artist, she studied painting at the Ecole Nationale des Beau Arts in Paris and the College of Art in New Delhi.  Before leaping into the Indian dance tradition of her grandmother and her mother, she studied American modern dance with Martha Graham in New York.  She and her husband, Frank Wicks, live on an island in Maine and have two  sons, Habib and Wardreath. 

Sukanya will be in New Delhi, India from the middle of January 2002 for the launch of her book.  

Title: Dancing in the family: An Unconventional Memoir of Three Women  
Format: Hardback  
Price: Rs. 500  
The book can be purchased at any leading bookstore in India or can be ordered against a payment by cheque to  
Harper Collins Publishers India Pvt. Ltd.  
7/16 Ansari Road, Daryaganj  
New Delhi 110002