Google today dedicated its Doodle to Indian Kathak legend Sitara Devi on her 97th birth anniversary. The country’s leading exponent of the art form, she was addressed as Nritya Samragini (Empress of Dance) by Rabindranath Tagore.
She was born as Dhannolakshmi on November 8, 1920, to Kathak dancer and Sanskrit scholar Sukhdev Maharaj and his wife Matsya Kumar in Kolkata.
By the age of 10, she was giving solo performances. Her family moved to Mumbai a few years later where Devi continued her training and started teaching others. Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore, impressed with her performance at one of her shows, offered her a shawl and a citation for Rs 50. Devi, then 16, refused to accept it and asked him for his blessings instead. The poet described her as Nritya Samragini.
Sitara Devi composed many kathak pieces, including todas and parans. She used to encourage her students to incorporate ideas from other dance forms, including ballet, tango and tap dance, her niece Jayanti Mala had said.
She received several awards, including the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1969 and the Padma Shree in 1973, during her career as a dancer.