Top 10 Famous Classical Dancers of India Ever

Dance is more like 30000 years old and the historic sculptures and theories are proof to it. For centuries, India has been known all over the world as a cultural hub. The art form is being practiced still in various places around the list. They are being carried out during the festivals and other seasonal occasions.

With the diverse customs and traditions of this beautiful country, a very intricate part of it is the dances. From ancient ages, classical dancers have adorned the courts of emperors and temples. But like all forms of art the Indian classical dances have undergone transformation with the changing times. Here, we mention some of the greatest prodigies of Indian classical dance.

List of Most Famous Classical Dancers of India

10. Balasaraswati

Tanjore Balasaraswati was born on 13th May 1918 and her rendition of Bharatnatyam made this dance form popular among not only the Indians but also among a lot of people across the whole world.

she debuted in the year of 1925 and soon she came under the radar of Uday Shankar. Throughout her life, she attracted the respect of dancing legends like Shambhu Maharaj, Martha Graham, and others. She was awarded the Padma Vibhushan in 1977 for her contribution towards nurturing an art form that is so much important in the country’s culture.

Balasaraswati was an Indian classical dancer who wasn’t afraid to go ahead with the traditional form of Bharatnatyam. She worked her entire life both in India and abroad to popularize the traditional form of Bharatnatyam. Her contribution towards making this form immensely popular is immeasurable.

9. Singhajit Singh

Rajkumar Singhajit Singh was born into a family of dancers and musicians of Manipur who were already experts of the Manipuri form of the Indian classical dance. He was born on 1st May 1935 and is a guru of the Pung cholom and Raslila forms of the Manipuri dance.

He along with his wife, Charu Sija Mathur, have set up the Manipuri Nrityashram in Delhi. This school is completely dedicated to Manipuri dance and is a major institution in the country patronizing this beautiful form of the Indian classical dance.

his dance troupe Triveni Ballet has acclaimed worldwide recognition and does show all over the world. In this way, this dynamic couple is taking Manipuri dance to the world stage. For his outstanding contribution, he was awarded the Padma Shri in 1986.

8. Mrinalini Sarabhai

Mrinalini Sarabhai, the mother of Mallika Sarabhai, was known as the cultural icon of India. She was an expert in Bharatnatyam and Kathakali. She was married to the Indian physicist, Vikram Sarabhai.

She founded the Darpana Academy of Performing Arts in Ahmedabad. Over her life, she has trained more than eighteen thousand students in Bharatnatyam and Kathakali. She has choreographed over three hundred dance dramas and was also a prolific writer. She was also known to be an art lover and thus was made chairperson of the Gujarat state Handicrafts and Handloom development corporation Ltd.

For her outstanding contribution towards the field of dance and for the human beings in general, she was recognized with the Padma Bhushan in 1992 and the Padma Shri in 1965. Her life was an epitome of dance and she made her mark on the global stage by becoming the first Indian to receive the medal and diploma of the French association archives Internationales de la danse.

7. Yamini Krishnamurthy

Mungara Yamini Krishnamurthy is an Indian classical dancer who specializes in the forms of Bharatnatyam and Kuchipudi. She was born on 20th December 1940.

Yamini Krishnamurthy debuted as a dancer in 1957 and she was the resident dancer of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam. She is known as the “ torch bearer” of the Kuchipudi dance. She has her own institute called Yamini School of Dance in New Delhi.

she has written her autobiography named “A Passion for Dance” which was received well by the masses. She was awarded the Padma Shree in 1986, Padma Bhushan in 2001, and the Padma Vibhushan in 2016. Her contribution towards the Kuchipudi form of dance is immeasurable. She is one of the leading dancers of Kuchipudi who have worked hard to popularize this form among the Indian youth.

6. Uday Shankar

Uday Shankar was an Indian dancer and choreographer who was best known for his own style. He made a fusion with the western dance forms and the Indian classical forms. He was known as the pioneer of modern dance in India. He popularized this new form in India, Europe, and the United States.

Uday Shankar never received any professional classical training yet from a very early age he was exposed to all kinds of Indian classical dance and music. Naturally, he developed a flair for it. He wanted to mix the western dance forms with the Indian  classical forms to create something new. He started collaborating with ballerinas and produced fusion forms which were pioneers of the art.

Uday Shankar was rightly called the pioneer of modern dance as his works have paved a new way for Indian Classical Dances to become popular among the Indian youth. He was awarded the Padma Vibhushan in 1971.

5. Shovana Narayan

Shovana Narayan has been looked upon by the Indian youth as one of the pioneers of Indian classical dance. She is a Kathak maestro who is a student of Pandit Birju Maharaj. She has done her masters from Miranda House and has a postdoctorate degree in defense and strategic studies.

She is one of the leading Kathak dancers of today and is a well known for her choreography and performance. She has collaborated with many western dance directors to blend Kathak with western dance forms producing compositions that spell magic. She was awarded the Padma Shri in 1992.

Shovana Narayan is a dancer with a cause who uses her dance form as a tool to reach out to those in need. Also, her efforts of trying to blend in kathak with western dance forms is commendable. In this way, modern arts can truly flourish with a traditional touch.

4. Rukmini Devi Arundale

Rukmini Devi Arundale was an Indian classical dancer who specialized in Bharatnatyam. She was also a theosophist and an activist for animal rights and welfare. She was born on 29th February 1904 and died on 24th February 1986.

she was the first woman to be nominated to the Rajya Sabha and she was the one who first tried to bring about a change in the ancient form of Bharatnatyam that was performed by Devadasis at temples. She tried to make something new keeping all the traditional touches intact. She was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1956.

not only did she modernize the form of Bharatnatyam but also tried to revive the other traditional arts of India. Despite strong public protests, she presented the form of Bharatnatyam on stage showing that determination and hard work can work wonders.

3. Mallika Sarabhai

Mallika Sarabhai Shah is an Indian classical dancer, actress, and activist from the city of Hyderabad. She is the daughter of an Indian classical dancer, Mrinalini Sarabhai. Mallika Sarabhai is an accomplished dancer who specializes in the forms of Bharatnatyam and Kuchipudi.

she started dancing while she was very young and started her acting career at the young age of fifteen. She did full justice to the role of Draupadi in Peter Brook’s play “ The Mahabharata “. She has won the Golden Star Award for her performance as the Best Dance Soloist, Theatre De Champs Elysees, Paris in 1977. She presently manages the Darpana Academy of Performing Arts in Ahmedabad.

Mallika Sarabhai is not only an accomplished dancer but an activist as well who looks to change the atrocities committed by the masses by educating them with the help of Performing arts. She has also looked to use the cinema and television to get her message across to the Indian masses.

2. Sonal Mansingh

Sonal Mansingh is an Indian classical dancer and guru of the genres Bharatnatyam and Odissi who was born on 30th April 1944. She has been nominated as a member of the Rajya Sabha in July 2018.

Sonal Mansingh started her career in 1962 in Mumbai and then in 1977 she founded the Centre for Indian Classical Dances in New Delhi. She was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1992 and the Padma Vibhushan in 2003. This made her only the second woman dancer after Balasaraswati to receive such an honor.

C: she has notably contributed towards the growth of the Indian classical dances and to honor this, director Prakash Jha made a documentary on her titled “Sonal”.

1. Pandit Birju Maharaj

Pandit Birju Maharaj

Brijmohan Mishra who is popularly known as Pandit Birju Maharaj was born on 4th February 1938. He is a descendant of the Maharaj family of kathak dancers and is an exponent of the Handia, Allahabad Kalka-bindadin gharana of Kathak dance. His uncles and his father and guru all belong to the Maharaj family of kathak dancers. Pandit Birju Maharaj is also a patron of Hindustani classical music.

Pandit Birju Maharaj begun teaching dance at the young age of thirteen in Delhi. He then started teaching at Bharatiya Kala Kendra until he became the head of the  faculty at Kathak Kendra. He retired as director of this institute in 1998 after which he opened up his own institution, Kalashram, in Delhi.

He was awarded the Padma Vibhushan in 1986. Maharaj has been a revolution in Indian classical dance who believes that like all other subjects, dance must evolve to keep up with the changing times. He is now collaborating with mainstream motion pictures to popularize Indian classical dance among the youth.


These Indian classical dancers have created a version of dance which is has kept the traditions intact and added a new fervour to it. These legends are the torch bearers of Indian classical dance.

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