In the sphere of Indian Dance, the name of Udaysankar is imprinted with an indelible
ink. This legendary dancer had taken Indian Dance to dizzying heights and was highly
acclaimed all over the globe.
Uday Shankar, one of the world's renowned Indian dancer and choreographer, was most
known for adapting Western theatrical techniques to traditional Indian classical
dance, imbued with elements of Indian classical, folk, and tribal dance. This layed
the roots of modern Indian dance, which he later popularized in India, Europe, and
the United States in 1920s and 1930s.
Uday Shankar Early Days
Udaysankar was born on 8th December 1900 in Udaipur, Rajasthan. He was the eldest
child of Pt. Shyamsankar Chowdhury and Hemangini Devi. Uday's father Pt. Shyamsankar
was an erudite scholar in Sanskrit. He graduated with honours from the Calcutta
University and the Oxford Univrsity.
He had a profound love for music and possessed a mellifluous voice. The Maharaja
of Jhalwar was very fond of him and not only employed him but developed grave responsibilities
on his shoulders life and could not spend much time his family. Hence, Udaysankar
spent his childhood in his maternal uncle's house at Nasbatpur with his mother and
He had no formal training in any of the schools of classical dancing. His dances
were creative. He had a wonderful gift of taking the essence from various dance
traditions and techniques and using them to choreograph his dance dramas.
His multi faceted talent shone forth in his creative works. The experience he
gained from experiments in music composition for his creative dances during the
formative years of his European and American tours was fully utilized at the Almora
Center. Along with Ustad Allaudin Khan, Vishnudass, Uday Shankar had, in Paris,
experimented with creative music for his solos, duets and ballets.
His contemporaries were the dancers like, Rukmini Devi Arundale (1904-86), Madam
Menaka (1899-1947),E. Krishna Iyar (1897-1968), Ram Gopal (1912-)and Tagore (1861-1941)
and poet Vallathol Narayana Menon (1878-1957).
Awards and Recogniation
In 1962, he was awarded by Sangeet Natak Akademi, India's The National Academy for
Music, Dance and Drama, with its highest award, the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship
for lifetime achievement
In 1971, Govt. of India awarded him with its second highest civilian award 'The