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Eminent dancer Mrinalini Sarabhai passes away

PTI Ahmedabad | Updated on January 19, 2018

Mrinalini Sarabhai (file photo)

Eminent danseuse Mrinalini Sarabhai, wife of the late Dr Vikram Sarabhai, father of India’s space programme, passed away here on Thursday following age-related health complications.

She was 97.

Popularly known as “Amma”, the choreography legend is survived by her environmentalist son Kartikeya and daughter Mallika, well-known dancer and social activist. The former President, late Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, protégé of Dr Sarabhai, was a close family friend.

Ms Sarabhai, a Padma Bhushan awardee for her contributions to Bharatanatyam and other classical dance forms, was hospitalised here on Wednesday, Kartikeya, said. Her last rites will be performed at village Pethapur in Gandhinagar, which she used to visit frequently due to her keen interest in handicrafts, for which the village is well-known.

Born on May 11, 1918, in Kerala, she was married to Dr. Vikram Sarabhai. Daughter of a former Member of Parliament, Ammu Swamimanathan, she spent her childhood in Switzerland, where she learnt her first lessons in western dance forms.

Subsequently, Mrinalini joined Santi Niketan, founded by Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore. She also had a stint at the American Academy of Dramatic Acts in the USA.

She later founded the Ahmedabad-based Darpana Academy of Performing Arts for training youth in dance, drama, music and puppetry. She was also a poet, writer and naturalist. She was active at the academy until a few years ago.

Mrinalini Sarabhai was decorated with many awards and citations in recognition of her contribution to the arts. She was credited with training hundreds of students in Bharatanatyam, Mohiniyattam and Kathakali.

Published on January 21, 2016

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