Acclaimed danseuse Amala Shankar has passed away in Kolkata at the age of 101. Wife of dancer and choreographer Uday Shankar and sister-in-law of musician Ravi Shankar, Amala hailed from a family of legends in performative arts.
Her grand-daughter and dancer Sreenada Shankar first broke the news on Twitter. “This is an end of an era”, wrote Sreenada in a eulogy to her grandmother who had turned a centenarian in June 2019.
Today my Thamma left us at the age of 101. We just celebrated her birthday last month.
Feeling so restless that there is no flight from Mumbai to Kolkata. Heartbroken 💔
May her soul Rest in peace. This is an end of an era. Love you Thamma. Thank you everything. #AmalaShankar pic.twitter.com/tDh2dkdRhn
— Sreenanda Shankar (@Sreenanda) July 24, 2020
Born as Amala Nandy in 1919 at Jessore, now in Bangladesh, Shankar was immersed in the art when she joined her future-husband Uday Shankar’s dance troupe in Paris at the age of 11 and attained worldwide renown henceforth. Amala is also noted to have exhibited her talent at acting in the 1948 film Kalpana which was co-produced by her husband. The film was screened at the Cannes Film Festival in 2012, a ceremony which was also attended by 93-year old Amala.
Amala is known for her magnanimous contributions to the field of Indian dancing, breaking the glass ceiling in an era when women were largely condemed to a life of reclusion and subservience with little feminine presence in the public sphere.
Marking her presence on the global stage as early as the 1930s, Amala Shankar is known to be the paragon of grace and her dramatic expressions on the stage were acknowledged right from her maiden performance Kaliya Daman which was staged in Belgium in 1931.
Shankar was awarded Banga Vibhushan by the Bengal government in 2011 and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Tagore Ratna award in 2012 for her nonpareil contributions in elevating Indian dancing to world commendation. Her legacy breathes on in the Shankar-gharana of classical dancing she made sure to preserve well into her 90s.
Condoling the loss, West Bengal CM, Mamata Banerjee, said that her demise has left on the world of dancing an irreparable damage.