Mrinalini Sarabhai, who made her own almost every art form she touched, would have turned hundred today – and has received Google’s sought after Doodle-tribute for the same. The Doodle, created by Sudeepti Tucker, depicts Mrinalini wielding her dear parasol and lovingly watching over her students in the auditorium of her academy.
Born on May 11, 1918, Mrinalini’s love affair with dance was raw and carnal, and took over her early on. “Mrinalini Sarabhai quickly developed her own technique, spirit, and strength by training at a young age, studying both the South Indian classical dance form of Bharatanatyam and the classical dance-drama of Kathakali,” writes Google, further adding, “One of the few classical dancers trained in more than one form, Sarabhai was able to quickly build a career in choreography and teaching. Despite seeing the continuous evolution of dance forms over her multi-decade career, she was inspired to choreograph more than three hundred dance dramas with a strong base of classical tradition behind them.”
Interestingly, she married who is regarded as the Father of the Indian Space Programme, physicist Vikram Sarabhai, in 1942 – and had two children, a boy and a girl, Kartikeya and Mallika, both of whom took to their iconic mother and pursued dance and theatre too.
The love the famed dancer carried soon blossomed into a career in choreography. She went on to found the Darpana Academy of Performing Arts in Ahmedabad in 1948 with Vikram, and 18,000 students in Bharatnatyam and Kathakali had the honour of training under the golden girl. The institute imparted dance, drama, music, and puppetry.
“The small dance academy grew to become not only a study centre for diverse art forms, but one that used the power of arts to bring about positive change to the critical issues facing society,” reads an excerpt from the description of her Google Doodle.
The veteran also immortalised her skill through pen and paper, and authored everything from novels to plays to poetry and even children’s stories. And for this unrelenting commitment to art, she has been conferred upon both, the Padma Shri as well as the Padma Bhushan, in 1965 and in 1992 respectively. Mrinalini Sarabhai died on January 21, 2016, at the age of 97. Happy 100th birthday, Mrinalini Sarabhai!