Shovana Narayan is
not only Indias one of the most celebrated artiste of Kathak par
excellence but she is undoubtedly the undisputed reigning Kathak
Queen today! Every fibre of her body lives and breathes dance.
An outstanding dancer, a consummate artiste and choreographer, she has
blazed a trail in Kathak, bestowing it with dignity and enriching it
with a deeper and wider canvas of expression and dimensions. Her name
is not only synonymous with Kathak but also with ennoblement. Shovana
is a visionary, who has amalgamated the best of both the worlds, the
past and the present and who is leaving behind a legacy of believing
and living a personal commitment. She displays an infectious zest for
life but which rests on a solid foundation of rigorous training and
sensitivity, deep thought, intensity and incredible hard work. She is
individualistic, contemporary and ever dynamic, which make her performances
The last three and half
decades have seen her mesmerizing audiences in several national and
international festivals in India as well as abroad.
In appearance, she represents
a Mughal miniature and is a personification of elegance, sensitivity
and grace, yet she is a storehouse of talent and a pillar of inner strength
and determination, both of which succeed in endowing her with a strangely
Shovana, one of the foremost
and most celebrated disciples of the maestro, Pt. Birju Maharaj at Delhi,
was initiated into Kathak as a child at the tender age of four, by the
well-known dancer-actress of yester-years, Sadhana Bose at Calcutta
and by Guru Kundanlal at Bombay. Her style represents a crystallisation
of combined techniques acquired from the sophisticated elegance of the
Lucknow gharana and the rhythmic precision of the Jaipur school. Her
approach also bears the stamp of a mind influenced by the cultures of
the world, projecting an individualistic attitude to the dance form
that bring new pictures to the mind.
Shovana has worked in
collaborations with nationally and internationally known Indian and
western dancers and musicians. Some of her choreographic works like
Moonlight Impressionism to music of Ravel, Beethoven, Mozart,
Chopin, Vivaldi & Debussy, The Dawn After with dancers
from Western classical ballet & Spanish flamenco, duets with an
American tap dancer and with a classical ballerina as also works with
noted dancers of various Indian classical dance styles, have been successful
in bringing out the flavor of various dance forms and blending them
into one harmonious language.
As a Guru
Shovana has emerged as
a sensitive and dedicated guru, successfully imparting not only the
skills of Kathak but also recognising the innate strenghth of each student
performer and encouraging the growth of their individualties. A staunch
believer in the Gurukul-parampara, Shovana imparts to her disciples
not only details of Kathak but also her own sensitivities and message
of love, righteous practices and trust, which makes an artiste humane.
Here again she has successfully redefined the Guru-Shishya tradition
and related it to the modern society. Her dedication as a guru of excellence
can be seen in her disciples who have become acclaimed young dancers
of the country. She imparts training in Kathak at her Asavari Centre
of Dance situated in Delhi.
Asavari Dance Company
group is credited with many path-breaking works, whether they were sensitive
portrayals of social issues or whether they were explorations of rhythmic
dimensions in terms of sound-scapes and emotional-scapes! Also not lagging
behind were revolutionary ideas in the Indian context such as dancing
without ankle bells, use of English text, use of long skirts as part
of choreographies or use of drums as part of dance movements and choreography.
In a way, Shovanas group choreographies and the banner of Asavari
are synonymous and it is therefore no wonder that the Asavari group
is often known as Shovanas troupe!
Her commitment to the
preservation and propagation of the rich tapestry of Indian classical
performing arts have turned her into a zealous and committed organiser
of 2 well known annual Festivals, one featuring the famous maestros
and the other Festival Arpan providing a platform to the
young, unknown but talented future torch-bearers of the tradition.
Deeply committed, involved
and aware of people and their problems, she was deeply involved with
the organisation and presentation of the first artists endeavor
to help the families affected by the Kargil war in 1999, also responding
to the call of introspection after the ghastly World Trade Tower episodes,
in Sound of Emptiness and Harmony along with Buddhist monks
(2001) and yet again after the Tsunami disaster in a breathtaking endeavour
Artistes for Tsunami Relief (2005) for rehabilitation of
Tsunami affected people.
does not end in the medium of dance. Her palette contains other media,
including films like Akbars Bridge (Hindi) and Das
Geheimnis des Indisches Tanz (German), opera like Ghalib
ki Dilli and Wicchare Pani as well as research works
on the development of dance in general and particularly Kathak.
Recognition came her way
early by way of awards. Her creativity and contribution to the art has
been admired and appreciated through numerous awards
Govt. of India Presidents
awards of Padmashri (1992) and Sangeet Natak Akademi
Other awards include:
Parishad Samman Award of Delhi, Indira Priyadarshini Award.
Bihar Gaurav Award, Bharat Nirman Puraskar,
Rajiv Smriti Puraskar, Shringar Shiromani Award,
Oisca Award (Japan), Rajdhani Ratna Award, Dadabhai
Naoroji Award, IMM award for Excellence.
The Path Breaker &
the Role Model
Shovana Narayan is a classical
example of a true Kathak, multi-faceted, successful and dynamic, and
presents a challenge to todays spectator. Her life and her works
have made her a role model and peer for millions of girls of the younger
generation of today.