Born: December 8, 1900
Passed Away: September 26, 1977
Shankar initiated a unique movement of revival of classical dances in
1930. Though he had no formal training in any classical form, his
presentations were creative. Uday Shankar used the essence of various
traditions and techniques in his dance dramas and succeeded in
presenting an integrated composition. The government of India awarded
Uday Shankar with the coveted "Padma Vibhushan.
Born in Udaipur, Rajasthan, Uday Shankar was the eldest son of noted
barrister Syam Shankar. He was the eldest of the four siblings. His
youngest brother, Rabindra is a popular sitar maestro and familiar to
all as "Pandit Ravi Shankar".
Besides an adept classical dancer, Uday Shankar also had the brilliance
of a painter within. To develop his skills further, he was sent to the
J. J. School of the Arts in Bombay. In 1920, Uday Shankar went to
England to study painting at the Royal College of Art, London. There, he
choreographed two ballads, based on the stories of Radha and Krishna and
the other on "A Hindu Wedding". He also met famous Russian
ballerina, Anna Pavlova at Covent Garden, where his ballads were
In 1929, Uday Shankar returned to India to form a dance troupe of his
own. Between 1930 and 1960, he toured through the western world and
learned the western theatrical techniques. He also knitted the two
different techniques so beautifully that his art became hugely popular
both in India and the West.
1938, Uday Shankar opened a dance school at Almora, Uttar Pradesh. He
also invited leading exponents of different musical forms to teach in
the school. Among the experts were, Shankaran Namboodiri for Kathakali,
Kandappa Pillai for Bharatanatyam, Amobi Singh for Manipuri and Ustad
Allauddin Khan. Later, the school came to be known as "Uday Shankar
Indian Culture Center". During the World War-II, the "Uday
Shankar Indian Culture Center" was forced to shut and was reopened
twenty years later, but in Calcutta.
Uday Shankar was married to one of his students Amala and also had a
son and a daughter. Ananda Shankar, his son, was best known for his
fusion in Western and Eastern musical styles. He was married to
classical dancer Tanushree Shankar.
After Uday's death in 1977, his widow Amala Shankar took the charge of
the school in Kolkata. The school continues to teach an all-embracing
performance curriculum that includes training in folk and classical
dance, improvisation, costume design etc.
Uday Shankar was awarded with "Padma Vibhushan" by the
Government of India and the Desikottama by the Visva-Bharati University.