Legendary Kathak danseuse Sitara Devi died on 25 November 2014 at Jaslok Hospital in Mumbai. She was 94.
Her dance was based on the themes, poetry and choreography collected by her father. She was also inspired from the environment around her town and village and the characters used to come live in her character.
Sitara Devi’s roots were inextricably woven to the tradition of kathakars, the early Kathak dancers. Thus, she usually used to say that she is just a kathakar of Krishna-leela (tales of Krishna).
About Sitara Devi
• Sitara devi was born as Dhannolakshmi in the Brahmin family of a kathakar Sukhdev Maharaj in Kolkata in 1920
• Her first performance was a dance drama Savitri Satyavan performed by her at local school in Kolkata. This led her father to re—christen her name as Sitara or the star
• Rabindranath Tagore described her as Nritya Samragini, meaning the empress of dance, after watching her performance when she was just 16 years old
• She gave performances in several parts of India, and in several other countries, including at the Royal Albert Hall, London in 1967; and at the Carnegie Hall, New York in 1976
• She is known as a pioneering force in bringing the genre to Bollywood
• At the age of 12, she was recruited by Niranjan Sharma, a filmmaker and a dance director.
• She performed dances in Hindi movies which include her debut movie Usha Haran (1940). Other includes Nagina (1951), Roti, Vatan (1954) and Anjali in 1957 (directed by Chetan Anand, brother of Dev Anand)
• Her last performance in a Bollywood film was in Mother India (1957)
• She was honored with prestigious awards like Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, Padma Shri and Kalidas Samman
• In 2011 she was honoured with the Legends of India Lifetime Achievement Award for her contribution to the classical dance genre for over six decades
• Sitara Devi married director K Asif of Mughal—e—Azam fame and then Pratap Barot. She was a vital force who stood for zest and vigour in Indian dance
Kathak is derived from Sanskrit word katha. It is a narrative drama evolved out of the Krishna temples of hinterland to scale the pinnacle of glory in the Muslim courts.
Kathak is one of the eight forms of Indian classical dance. This dance form traces its origins to the nomadic bards of ancient northern India, known as Kathakars or storytellers.
From the 16th century onwards it absorbed certain features of Persian dance and central Asian dance which were imported by the royal courts of the Mughal era.
At present, the form of dance contains traces of temple and ritual dances, and the influence of the bhakti movement.
History says that Kathak began in the ancient times and have literary references from the 3rd and 4th centuries BCE. The two texts are in the archives of Kameshwar library at Mithila.
There are three major schools or gharana of Kathak from which performers today generally draw their lineage. These are the gharanas of Jaipur (born in the court of the Kachwaha Rajput kings), Lucknow (born in the courts of Nawab of Oudh) and Varanasi (born in the courts of Nawab of Varanasi).
Where: at Jaslok Hospital in Mumbai
What: died at the age of 94
When: on 25 November 2014