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Veteran Kathak dancer Padmashri Rani Karnaa passes away at 79

Veteran Kathak dancer Rani Karnaa passed away today in Kolkata. She was 79.

Rani was regarded by many as one of the greatest exponents of the art form. She was honoured by the Government of India, in 2014, by bestowing on her the Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award, for her services to the field of dance. Her last public performance was in 2013, at the age of 74.

Rani Karnaa (via Wikimedia Commons)

Born in 1939 in Hyderabad (in the present day in Pakistan) in a Sindhi family, Rani moved to Delhi in 1942, and started learning Kathak, Odissi, Bharatanatyam and Manipuri at the age of four. Initially, she learned under Nrityacharya Narayan Prasad and Sundar Prasad. Later, she continued her lessons under Guru Hiralal (Jaipur gharana ) and also learned the Lucknow gharana ethos from Pandit Birju Maharaj.

Post marriage, Rani moved to Bhubneshwar (Odisha) and also took Odissi dance lessons from renowned guru Kelucharan Mohapatra.

in 1995, Rani Karnaa founded Samskritiki Shreyaskar to propagate the dance form of Kathak and to develop the performing arts in general.

A Botany graduate from the Hindu College, Delhi, forsook academics to concentrate on her dance career. She was the first director of Calcutta School of Music and also established the dance division of Aurobindo Bhavan, Kolkata, by name, Ahana and headed the department from 1980 to 1987.

Rani Karnaa was recipient of Vice-President’s Gold Medal – Shankar’s Weekly , Order of the Queen of Laos, Sangeet Varidhi (Bharatiya Kala Kendra, New Delhi), Vijay Ratna – Indian International Friendship Society, New Delhi, Senior Fellow – Department of Culture, Ministry of HRD – Govt. of India, Sangeet Natak Akademi Award and Honorary Award – Akhil Bhartiya Sindhi Boli and Sahitya Sabha.


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