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Shovana Narayan is a famous and recognized Indian Kathak dancer. She is taken by the youth of today as pioneer and a role model in successfully combining two parallel careers with success and dignity. She performs in India and around the world, and has been awarded the Padma Shri. Her guru is Birju Maharaj.
Narayan studied at Miranda House in Delhi, India, graduating with a master's degree in Physics in 1972. She completed MPhil in Defence and Strategic Studies from University of Madras in 2008 and M.Phil in Social Sciences from Punjab University in 2001. She also worked as a career officer for the Indian Audits & Accounts Service and retired in 2010. She is married to Dr. Herbert Traxl, Austrian Ambassador to India (retired).
Achievements in Dance Career
As a 'Performer and Guru', Shovana Narayan is India’s most celebrated and outstanding Kathak Maestro of the present age; well known both as choreographer and performer. She blazed a trail in the field imbuing it with depth, maturity and ennoblement. She performed and mesmerised audiences all over the world in several prestigious national and international festivals. She also performed before several Heads of States and Governments and has trained several Kathak artistes, some of whom are leading artistes of the young generation.
As a 'Choreographer-Performer', Shovana Narayan has spearheaded and produced international collaborative works with leading dancers of Western Classical Ballet, Spanish Flamenco, Tap dance, Buddhist chants with Buddhist Monks as well as to the compositions of western Classical composers. She was the Creative Director-Producer-Dancer of the first ever trilogy involving Western Classical Dance-Kathak-Spanish Flamenco in “The Dawn After” in 1994. She was also the Creative Director of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 6th Abylimpics 2003, held at New Delhi. She delivered the Opening & Closing Ceremonies of the Commonwealth Games Delhi in 2010 with a thundering success. She has spearheaded and produced several collaborative works with leading dancers of several Indian classical dance styles. She was also the Creative Director-Producer for:
- the Classical Dance Sequence in the Opening Ceremony of the Golden Jubilee Celebrations of Indian Independence at National Stadium, 1997
- the Ballet on First war of Independence on Begum Hazrat Mahal
- the Ballet for Guru Gobind Singh’s Ter – Centenary Celebrations of the Khalsa panth, 1999
Some of her eminent choreographies are:
- the dance ballet “Kadambari: The Poet’s Muse” (2012) on the influence of sister-in-law, Kadambari on Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore, a subject never attempted before
- the genre of dance enactments to philosophical themes with eminent philosopher, late Prof Ramchandra Gandhi that were based on the lives of contemporary thinkers and sages (Vivekanand, Ramana Maharshi, Francis of Assisi, Mahatma Gandhi, Ramkrishna Paramhansa)
- a soliloquy to “Shakuntala” (by Maithili Sharan Gupt), which rejuvenated the narrative tradition of the North-Indian dance form
As an 'Organiser', Shovana Narayan organises annually:
- a Festival for young torchbearers of classical performing arts ‘LalitĀrpan Festival’ at India Habitat Centre (for almost a decade).
- the Asavari festival featuring maestros of classical performing arts (for over two decades).
- the Annual Day ‘Rhythm & Joy’ of young students of Kathak (for over two decades).
Shovana is a dancer with a cause. Deeply committed, involved and aware of people and their problems, she was deeply involved with the organisation and presentation of the first artists’ sensitive outpourings and endeavour to help the families affected by the Kargil war, the tsunami and the Bihar flood. She is a regular and most ardent champion of issues related to women’s problems and the ‘specially abled’. She has conceptualised and choreographed several ballets on women’s issues and other social issues.
Research and Films
Shovana has researched and discovered 8 Kathak villages near Gaya with documentary and official records. She collaborated with Sanskrit & Epigraphy scholar Dr KK Mishra, who discovered Prakrit inscription in Asokan-Brahmi script relating to Kathak dated to 4th century BC. She is the first dancer to have conceived, conceptualised and brought out a dance video on the philosophy and legend of the immortal Khajuraho temples entitled ‘Dance of the Temples’. She is the leading actor in films “Akbar’s Bridge” (Hindi) and “Das Geheimnis des Indisches Tanz” (German).
Over 80 articles with deep research have been published in several national newspapers, recognised journals etc. such as The Times of India, The Tribune, The Asian Age, in Journals of Sangeet Natak Akademi, Rajasthan University, UNESCO and several others.
- By Shovana Narayan
- Narayan, Shovana (14 March 2005). Indian Classical Dances. Sterling Publishers Pvt. Ltd. ISBN 978-1-84557-169-6. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
- Narayan, Shovana (2003). Performing arts in India: a policy perspective. Kanishka Publishers, Distributors. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
- Narayan, Shovana (1 January 2004). Indian theatre and dance traditions. Harman Pub. House in association with Iādyant. ISBN 978-81-86622-61-2. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
- Narayan, Shovana (1 February 1998). Rhythmic echoes and reflections: kathak. Roli Books. ISBN 978-81-7436-049-6. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
- Narayan, Shovana; India. Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. Publications Division (1999). Dance legacy of Patliputra. Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Govt. of India. ISBN 978-81-230-0699-4. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
- Raghuvanshi, Alka; Narayan, Shovana; Pasricha, Avinash (2004). Kathak. Wisdom Tree. ISBN 978-81-86685-14-3. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
- Narayan, Shovana (2004). Folk dance traditions of India. Shubhi Publication. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
- Narayan, Shovana (2007). Meandering pastures of memories. Macmillan. ISBN 978-1-4039-3102-3. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
- Narayan, Shovana (1 January 2007). Krishna in performing arts. Shubhi. ISBN 978-81-8290-042-4. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
- About Shovana Narayan
- Mishra, Kamal K. (1 January 2006). Mishra, Girishwar; Jha, Binay K., eds. Kathak: the world of Shovana Narayan. Kanishka. ISBN 978-81-7391-725-7. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
Awards and honours
- Padma Shri, 1992
- Sangeet Natak Akademi Award 1999–2000
- Delhi Government's Parishad Samman
- Rajiv Smriti Puraskar
- Bihar Gaurav Puraskar, 1985
- Indira Priyadarshini Samman
- Rajdhani Ratna Award
- Shringar Shiromani Award
- Rotary International Award
- Bharat Nirman Award
- National Integration Award
- Oisca Award (Japan), 1990–91
- Dadabhai Naoroji Award, 1993
- Kelvinator's GR8Award
- FICCI's FLO award