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In India, there are two kinds of dancers; first category is that of classical dancers who take dance as their sole profession. The second one is that of people in the Indian film industry, who have a clear-cut advantage of their performances reaching a wider audience through movies. Recent years have seen a decline in the number of people belonging to the first category. Now-a-days, even a third category has mushroomed, thanks to the advent of so many dance reality shows.
So, when talking about ‘Indian Dancers’, although I would have loved to get you another Top 10 kind of list, somewhere I feel this would be unfair. Therefore, I have decided to build two lists of the best five dancers in both categories.
Widely known as ‘The High Priestess of Indian Dance’, Mrinalini Sarabhai is a great dancer and choreographer, who is heads and shoulders above every other contemporary dancer. She is a very unique and creative talent. Her dance is different in the sense that she has high respect for traditional forms, and an equal hunger for experimenting and incorporating newer and unique sections, which are a class apart. For her outstanding contribution to Indian classical dances, she has earned various awards like Padma Bhushan and Veera Srinkala.
Uday Shankar had no formal training, yet is considered one of the best dancers of all time who made the world remember (in the 1930s) that there is something absolutely unique and magical in Indian Classical Dance. He was very creative, and was a master in integrating different traditions in one single performance. His solos of Indian Gods like Shiva, Kartikeya, and Indra can only be considered the best of the best. Through his perfect showmanship, he could always keep the audience wanting for more. He was a true genius, a legend whom you come across only once in a lifetime.
Yamini Krishnamurthy is an Indian Bharatnatyam and Kuchipudi dancer who created a sensation in Indian classical dances in the 1960s. Having taken her training from renowned gurus like the Pillais, and Vedanta Lakshmi Narayan, she is a perfectionist, who earned a lot of respect due to her stage persona. Her dance performances were highly charsimastic and beautiful. Audiences even kept standing in heavy rain at open-air venues, to watch her perform; such was her craze. She has received Padma Bhushan and Padma Shree in her glorious career.
Brijmohan maharaj, lovingly known as Birju Maharaj among his fans is the son of Achchan Maharaj. His family is the great Maharaj family from Lucknow, which is widely known for Kathak, an Indian dance form. He is a genius who has taken this beautiful dance form to new heights. He has toured all over the world introducing the tradition to new places. He has also created new compositions, Paranas, Tukras, and ballets. And choreographed many Kathak dance dramas. He has founded Kalashram. He also has lots of knowledge in Indian classical music. For his contribution to Kathak, he has won the award, Padma Vibhushan.
Known as one of the best Kathak dancers ever, Shovana Narayan is
Birju Maharaj’s student. She is best known for incorporating expressions in her
dances, creating an altogether new realm. She is a great example of a living
legend, who has introduced various new works through experimentations. Her
works like ‘Moonlight Impressionism’ and ‘The dawn After’ have been very
successful. She has also written several books on dance.
Film Industry Dancers
Called the ‘Indian Michael Jackson’, Prabhu Deva is arguably the best, and most respected dancer and choreographer associated with the Hindi Film Industry. He is known for his speed, crisp and lightweight moves, which encompass a variety of dance forms with unmatchable grace. Dancing is his passion, as is clearly evident by his position in Bollywood. He is like an ideal, a maximum achievable level to which every other dancer is compared today. He has also won two National Best Choreographer Awards.
Few people know that she has trained in Kathak for almost eight years. Having such a rich background, it is no doubt Madhuri Dixit is one of the dancing greats in the Indian Film Industry. Over the years, she has given many great performance in songs like ‘Ek Do Teen’, ‘Que Sera Sera’, ‘Dola Re’, ‘Choli Ke Peeche, and ‘Dhak Dhak’. Her moves are so fluid and agile that it seems like she is almost floating a lot of times. It is said that she dances with her heart, and not her body.
Hrithik Roshan is as much known for his dancing as he is for his acting. A great talent, Hrithik is a stylish dancer, who can incorporate a lot of styles and dance forms in his performances. His performance in the song ‘Main Aisa Kyun Hun’ can only be called top-notch. He is famous for being very curious about learning new things, not just dance moves. Throw anything new at him, and he will turn it into a timeless and perfect stuff, which will essentially have his unique signature.
Aishwarya Rai, probably the most beautiful Indian actress in recent times is also a trained classical dancer, who has given many graceful performances in her glorious career. If there is anybody actually comparable to Madhuri Dixit in Indian Cinema, It is surely Aishwarya Rai. It was a sight to behold when the pair danced together in the movie ‘Devdas’. Apart from that, she has given a number of special performances in sons like ‘Nibooda’, ‘Dholi Taro’, ‘Taal se taal mila’, ‘kahin Aag Lage’, ‘Kajra re’, ‘Udi’, ‘Salaam’ and ‘Barso Re’.
Vijayantimala, a great actress and dancer is a pioneer who set sky-high ‘semi-classical dance’ standards for Indian actresses in Bollywood movies in the 1950s and 60s. She is a trained dancer, with lots of command over Bharatanatyam. Her performance in the movie ‘Devdas’ is truly remarkable and iconic. Along with Padmini, she is a dancing benchmark for modern day Indian actresses. She travelled all around the world and graced many stages with her graceful performances, winning many hearts. Today, she is still active in the world of dance, being the Life President of Natyalaya Academy of Classical Bharatanatyam and Music.
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