Legendary Indian Classical Dancer Mrinalini Sarabhai’s 100th birth anniversary celebrated in Google Doodle

Google Doodle honours legendary dancer and Padma awardee Mrinalini Sarabhai.

Today’s Google Doodle is honouring the legendary dancer and Padma Bhushan and Padma Shree recipient Mrinalini Sarabhai on her 100th birth anniversary.

Today is noted danseuse and Padma Bhushan recipient Mrinalini Sarabhai’s 100th birthday and in honor of the legendary dancer Google is depicting her in a Google Doodle by Sudeepti Tucker.

Mrinalini Sarabhai is shown with her signature parasol, standing proudly in the auditorium Darpana Academy of Performing Arts where her students are also dancing on stage.

Sarabhai was born on this day exactly 100 years ago in Kerala on May 11, 1918 to S Swaminathan and A V Ammakutty.

Her father was a lawyer at the Madras High Court while her mother was a social worker.

In 1942, Mrinalini married notable physicist Vikram Sarabhai who is considered to be the  Father of the Indian Space Program.

Sarabhai had started training at a fairly young age, studying both the classical dance forms of Bharatanatyam and Kathakali.

She is the youngest of three children.

In school, she was introduced to Dalcroze Eurhythmics, a system of introducing musical concepts through movement.

She spent time studying acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

She once said, “From the moment of my knowledge of existence, I claimed the dance as my own life. It shaped the entire consciousness of my being and it never changed..”

Her older sister, Lakshmi Sehgal, was a part of the Indian National Army and her older brother Govind Swaminathan was a former attorney general of the state of Madras.

She has two children, Mallika and Kartikeya.

Her son Kartikeya and daughter Mallika followed her footsteps to become dancers and theatre artists.

She trained in Bharatnatyam, Kathakali and Mohiniyattom.

She pursued education at Shantiniketan under Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore.

She also wrote many novels, poetry, plays, and stories for children.

Darpana was established as a dance academy by Mrinalini and Vikram Sarabhai in 1949.

For nearly two decades it taught classical dance.

With Mrinalini as the lead dancer, and Chatunni Panicker as her partner, the Darpana dance company toured across the world.

Mrinalini was awarded the Padma Shri in 1965 and Padma Bhushan in 1992.

She was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship New Delhi in 1994 and she was the first recipient of the state annual award from the Government of Kerala, Nishagandhi Puraskaram, which was presented to her in 2013.

Apart from being a classical dancer, she was also a poet, writer and environmentalist who played a leading role in the social and art scene in Ahmedabad.

She was inspired to choreograph more than three hundred dance dramas with a strong base of classical tradition behind them.

Prime Ministers and Presidents were often in the front row seats of her performances.


In a post explaining the doodle, Google wrote, “Today’s Doodle celebrates Indian classical dancer Mrinalini Sarabhai, who quickly developed her own technique, spirit, and strength by training at a young age, studying both the South Indian classical dance form of Bharatanatyam and the classical dance-drama of Kathakali.”

“One of the few classical dancers trained in more than one form, Sarabhai was able to quickly build a career in choreography and teaching.

Despite seeing the continuous evolution of dance forms over her multi-decade career, she was inspired to choreograph more than three hundred dance dramas with a strong base of classical tradition behind them,” wrote the Google blog post.

To “to share the craft with future generations,” Sarabhai and her husband Dr Vikram Sarabhai – who is considered to be the Father of the Indian Space Programme – opened the Darpana Academy of Performing Arts in 1949.
“The small dance academy grew to become not only a study center for diverse art forms but one that used the power of arts to bring about positive change to the critical issues facing society,” it added.

Mrinalini Sarabhai passed away at the age of 97 in January 2016


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