Mrinalini Sarabhai warmed up Ahmedabad's dhanda-oriented Gujaratis to arts: Danseuse Daksha Mashruwala

Mumbai danseuse Daksha Mashruwala says Sarabhai warmed up Ahmedabad's dhanda-oriented Gujaratis to the arts

The news that Amma is no more came as a shock to me on Thursday, and it has triggered an avalanche of memories of a guru who showed me the path in dance. It was a path of serious commitment but fragrant with elegance and beauty that leaves the self and the spectator in a state of aesthetic delight.

Young Mrunalini with Ram Gopal and Baby MK Saroja. PIC/MOHAN KHOKAR/DANCE ARCHIVES OF INDIA
Young Mrunalini with Ram Gopal and Baby MK Saroja. PIC/MOHAN KHOKAR/DANCE ARCHIVES OF INDIA

I was a student at Darpana Academy for 12 years. It was a time that left a deep impact on my learning and understanding dance. Amma's presence itself warned us that dance was a serious activity. Her training and choreography were the best lesson in how a traditional dance form and the dancer could explore some of the most modern and progressive themes relevant in society.

Mrinalini Sarabhai with her student Daksha Mashruwala at her arangetram in 1970
Mrinalini Sarabhai with her student Daksha Mashruwala at her arangetram in 1970

In a city like Ahmedabad of the 1970s, we believed that Mrinalini and Vikram Sarabhai were a hundred years ahead of the rest. Darpana was and is the place where art and culture reached out to the Gujarati community, introducing a radical mindset to a largely business-oriented community.

My association with Darpana continued long after I left and it was as recently as December 2015 that I worked with Revanta Sarabhai, Amma's grandson, in my production, Crossing Oceans. I remember telling him how his lithe body, long limbs and nuances reminded me so much of Amma.

Amma, the most beautiful, powerful and elegant dancer lived close to a century and had left us a legacy that shall continue in loving and celebrating life through dance.

Dancer, choreographer and founder of Kaishiki Nrityasabha, Daksha Mashruwala has trained under Sarabhai and late Odissi maestro Kelucharan Mohaptra.

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