Amala Shankar



Born on 27 June 1919 in Jessore in undivided Bengal, Shrimati Amala Shankar was introduced to dance by the Shankar family whom she met in France. She took her initial training in dance under Uday Shankar. Soon she began to perform as his dance partner and took up lead roles in his dance troupe. When Uday Shankar started his dance centre in Almora, Shrimati Amala Shankar had the opportunity to train in several styles. She learnt Manipuri dance from Amoubi Singh, Kathakali from Shankaran Nambudiripad, and Bharatanatyam under Kandappa Pillai.
Uday Shankar and Amala Shankar attained great fame as practitioners of experimental and modern Indian dance. Uday Shankar choreographed many dance-dramas featuring Amala Shankar in prominent roles which brought her high appreciation within the country and abroad. These dance-dramas include Labour and Machinery and Samanya Kshati, and shadow plays such as Ram Leela and Lord Buddha. Shankar’s choreographic production Kalpana featured the duo in a dance sequence titled ‘Shiva Parvati’ which earned the couple critical acclaim both as a stage production and film.
Later, Shrimati Amala Shankar established her dance school in Kolkata where she trained many talented dancers. She also produced dance-dramas which have been presented in prestigious dance events around the world. She has taught Indian dance at the Perry Mansfield School of Dance in Colorado and the Connecticut College in the United States.
Shrimati Amala Shankar has received many awards and honours including the Soviet Land Nehru Award, the West Bengal State Akademi of Dance, Drama and Music Award, the Nritya Shiromani, and the Mother Teresa Lifetime Achievement Award. She was conferred the Padma Bhushan in 1991.
Shrimati Amala Shankar is elected Tagore Fellow of Sangeet Natak Akademi for her contribution to Indian dance.