Damayanti Joshi

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Damayanti Joshi
Born (1928-09-05)September 5, 1928
Mumbai, India
Died September 19, 2004(2004-09-19) (aged 76)
Mumbai, India
Occupation dancer, choreographer, dance instructor
Dances Kathak

Damayanti Joshi (September 5, 1928 – September 19, 2004)[1] was a noted Indian classical dancer in the Kathak dance form.[2] Starting as young dancer in the troupe of Madame Menaka in the 1930s, which travelled to many parts of the world. She learnt Kathak from Sitaram Prasad of Jaipur Gharana and became an adept dancer at a very young age, and later trained under from Acchan Maharaj, Lacchu Maharaj and Shambhu Maharaj of Lucknow gharana, thus imbibing nuances from both the traditions. She turned solo in the 1950s and achieved prominence in the 1960s, before turning into her guru herself through her dance school in Mumbai.[3][4][5]

She received the Padma Shri in 1970, the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for Dance in 1968, and had remained Director of the U.P. Kathak Kendra in Lucknow.[6]

Early life and training[edit]

Born in a Hindi family in Mumbai in 1928,[7] she grew up in the household of General Sokhey and his wife, the torch-bearer of Indian dance in the 1930s, Madame Menaka, under whose guidance she initially trained in Kathak under Pandit Sitaram Prasad. She danced and toured the world in Menaka's troupe from the time she was five and by 15 she had already performed at all the major cities of Europe, and was also receiving a full education. The Sokheys had employed Damayanti's biological mother and she was a rock that always stood by her daughter.[6][8][9]

She was the first student at Mumbai's Sri Rajarajeswari Bharata Natya Kala Mandir, where she learned Bharat Natyam from Guru T. K. Mahalingam Pillai, doyen among nattuvanars.[10]


After the mid-1950s, Damayanti established herself as a successful solo Kathak dancer, taking training from Pandits, Achhan Maharaj, Lachhu Maharaj and Shambhu Maharaj of the Lucknow gharana and Guru Hiralal of the Jaipur gharana. Particularly, at Kathak Kendra, Delhi, she trained under Shambhu Maharaj.[11] She was the first person to introduce “Saree” as a costume in Kathak dance.

She also taught Kathak at Indira Kala Vishvaidyalaya, Khairagarh, and Kathak Kendra in Lucknow. She has been honoured with the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1968) and the Padma Shri (1970).[12] She was also the guru to Bireshwar Gautam.

She has been featured in the documentary on Kathak in 1971 by Films Division, Government of India, and another film entitled "Damayanti Joshi" directed by Hukumat Sarin was made in 1973.[citation needed]

She died on September 29, 2004 at her home in Dadar, Mumbai, a year after she had suffered a stroke.[9]


  • Madame Menaka, by Damayanti Joshi. Sangeet Natak Akademi, 1989.
  • Rediscovering India, Indian philosophy library: Kathak dance through ages, by Projesh Banerji, Damayanti Joshi. Cosmo publications, 1990.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Kathak FAQ: Short notes on the popular Kathak dancers". Nupur Nritya - Sangeet Academy. 
  2. ^ Gassner, John; Edward Quinn (2002). The Reader's Encyclopedia of World Drama. Courier Dover Publications. p. 453. ISBN 0-486-42064-7. 
  3. ^ Kothari, Sunil (1989). Kathak, Indian classical dance art. Abhinav Publications. p. 188. 
  4. ^ Massey, p. 64
  5. ^ Banerji, Projesh (1983). Kathak dance through ages. Humanities Press. p. 45. 
  6. ^ a b "TRIBUTE: A life of intricate rhythms". The Hindu. Sep 18, 2005. 
  7. ^ Menon, Rekha (1961). Cultural profiles, (Volume 2). Inter-National Cultural Centre,. p. 17. 
  8. ^ Lakshmi, C. S.; Roshan G. Shahani (1998). Damayanti, Menaka's daughter: a biographical note based on the Visual History Workshop, February 15, 1998 Issue 8 of Publication (SPARROW). SPARROW. p. 11. 
  9. ^ a b Lakshmi, C.S. (Nov 7, 2004). "A life dedicated to dance". The Hindu. 
  10. ^ "Life dedicated to dance". The Hindu. Jan 3, 2003. 
  11. ^ Massey, Reginald (1999). India's kathak dance, past present, future. Abhinav Publications. p. 29. ISBN 81-7017-374-4. 
  12. ^ "Padma Awards". Ministry of Communications and Information Technology.