Sonal Mansingh

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Sonal Mansingh
Sonal Mansingh.jpg
Sonal Mansingh performing in New Delhi.
Background information
Birth name Sonal Pakvasa
Born (1944-04-30) April 30, 1944 (age 71)
Mumbai, British India
Origin India
Genres Indian classical music
Occupation(s) Indian classical dancer, choreographer
Years active 1962–present

Sonal Mansingh (born Apr 30, 1944) is an eminent Indian classical dancer and choreographer of Odissi dancing style; who is also proficient in other Indian classical dancing styles including Bharatnatyam,[1] Kuchipudi, and Chhau.[2]<

Early life and background[edit]

Sonal Mansingh was born in Mumbai, second of three children to Arvind and Poornima Pakvasa, a noted social worker from Gujarat and Padma Vibhushan winner in 2004. Her grandfather was Mangal Das Pakvasa, a freedom fighter, and one of the first five Governors of India.[3]

She started learning Manipuri dance at age four, along with her elder sister, from a teacher in Nagpur, then at age seven she started learning Bharatnatyam from various gurus belonging to the Pandanallur school,[4] including Kumar Jayakar in Bombay [5]

She has "Praveen" and "Kovid" degrees in Sanskrit from Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan and B.A. (Hons) degree in German Literature from Elphinstone College, Bombay.

Though, her real training in dance started when at age 18, despite her family's opposition, she went to Bangalore, to learn Bharatanatyam from Prof. U. S. Krishna Rao and Chandrabhaga Devi [6] at age 18, abhinaya from Mylapore Gowri Ammal, and later started learning Odissi from Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra in 1965.

Mansingh was married to former Indian diplomat Lalit Mansingh. The couple decided to divorce later.[7] Her father-in-law Mayadhar Mansingh introduced her to Kelucharan Mohapatra where she had her training in Odissi.[8]


Sonal Mansingh dancing career which started in 1962, after her arangetram in Mumbai, and in 1977, she founded, Centre for Indian Classical Dances (CICD) in New Delhi.[2][9]

Over the years, dance has taken her all over the world [10] and brought her many awards, including the Padma Bhushan (1992), Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1987 ,[11] and the Padma Vibhushan, India's the second highest civilian award, in 2003; making her the second woman dancer in India to receive such an honour after Balasaraswati.[12] This was followed by Kalidas Samman of Madhya Pradesh government, in 2006 and on April 21, 2007, she was conferred with Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa) by G.B. Pant University, Uttarakhand at Pantnagar and Doctor of Literature (Honoris Causa) by Sambalpur University.[13]

To mark the completion of her 40 years in dancing in 2002, noted Hindi film director, Prakash Jha made a documentary film on her, title Sonal,[2] which also won the National Film Award for Best Non-Feature Film for the year.[14]

Though she is a renowned exponent in Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi, Sonal Mansingh has been labelled as being "exceptionally mediocre and unnecessarily exhibitionist in both" by veteran dance critic and scholar Dr Sunil Kothari.


  • Indradhanush
  • Manavatta
  • Mera Bharat
  • Draupadi
  • Gita Govinda [15]
  • Sabras
  • Chaturang [16]
  • Panchkanya
  • Devi Durga
  • Aatmayan [17]
  • Samanavaya


  • "A dancer is not just a dancer. He/She is part of this environment. He/She does not exist in a vacuum. Society and its happenings have an impact on all individuals, especially artists. If an art form does not reflect the existing milieu, it stagnates." [18]
  • "Radha is a grand image too but she's a personification of love without which there is no creation. In our male-dominated mythology the image of Krishna at the feet of Radha, begging for her love, is most unusual. Gita Govind invokes deep spiritual thoughts, packaged in beautifully written verses". [15]


  • The Penguin Book of Indian Dance by Sonal Mansingh, Penguin Books Australia. ISBN 0-14-013921-4.
  • Classical Dances by Sonal Mansingh, Avinash Pasricha, Varsha Das. 2007, Wisdom Publications. ISBN 81-8328-067-6.
  • Draupadi, by Sonal Mansingh; Museum Society of Bombay, 1994.

Further reading[edit]

  • Sonal Mansingh Contribution to Odissi Dance by Jiwan Pani. 1992, Centre for Indian Classical Dances. ISBN 81-7304-002-8.
  • Bharata Natyam: Indian Classical Dance Art, by Sunil Kothari. MARG Publications, 1979. Page 169-170.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bharatanatyam performance by Sonal Mansingh The Tribune, October 20, 2006.
  2. ^ a b c Biography Official website.
  3. ^ Sonal Mansingh University of Alberta website,
  4. ^ National centre for the performing Arts. Quarterly journal. v.12-13 , page 3
  5. ^ Sonal Mansingh: The dance of life The Times of India, November 9, 2003.
  6. ^ Sonal Mansingh
  7. ^ "The art of diplomacy". The Indian Express. 31 Oct 1999. Retrieved 29 May 2012. 
  8. ^ "Sonal Mansingh". Retrieved 29 May 2012. 
  9. ^ Sonal Mansingh
  10. ^ Interview
  11. ^ Awards Odissi Sangeet Natak Akademi official website.
  12. ^ Sonal
  13. ^ String of awards for Sonal Mansingh The Hindu, April 27, 2007.
  14. ^ Sonal
  15. ^ a b Art and Culture Hindustan Times, March 18, 2008.
  16. ^ Famous Personalities of India
  17. ^ Legends of India
  18. ^ Sonal Mansingh

External links[edit]