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Indrani Rahman (September 19, 1930, Chennai - February 5, 1999, New York) was an Indian classical dancer, of Bharata Natyam, Kuchipudi, Kathakali and Odissi, which she popularized in the west, and later settled in New York in 1976.

In 1952, she won the Miss India pageant.  She popularized the Indian classical dance form, Odissi during her international tours. Indrani had received the Padma Shri in 1969 and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in the performing arts and also the Taraknath Das Award.



Indrani started learning dance in her mother’s company, at age nine, and accompanied her as she travelled through, Americas, and Europe. Professionally, she first started with Bharata Natyam, having learnt the Pandanallur style of Bharata Natyam from Guru Chokkalingam Pillai (1893–1968) in 1940s. Soon she was in Vijaywada, learning Kuchipudi from Korada Narsimha Rao with whom she later toured may parts of the world [9].

In 1947, Indrani attracted the attention of India's leading dance and art critic Dr. Charles Fabri, who later encouraged her to go to Orissa and learn the little known classical dance form of Odissi, making her the first professional dancer to learn Odissi. After learning Odissi for three years, from Guru Sri Deba Prasad Das, she went on to popularize it, through performance in various parts of India and the world [10][11].

In 1952, already married, and with a child, she became the first Miss India [12][13], and went on to compete in the Miss Universe 1952 Pageant, held at Long Beach, California [14] . Soon, she travelling along with her mother and performing all over the world [15]. In 1961, she was the first dancer presented on a national tour by the Asia Society, and also performed for US President John F. Kennedy and Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, during Nehru's official visit to Washington D.C. [5], and in the following years she also performed for Emperor Haile Selassie, Queen Elizabeth II, Mao Tse-Tung, Nikita Khruschev, and Fidel Castro [3][16]. In 1976 she became a faculty member of the Juilliard Dance School at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, taught in various American universities, including the Harvard, and spent remaining two decades in the United States, touring extensively.

[edit] Personal life

She married Habib Rahman (1915–1995), a well-known architect, in 1945, the couple had a son, artist, Ram Rahman, and a daughter, Sukanya Rahman (Wicks) [17], who also danced with her mother and grandmother, and grandsons, Wardreath Wicks and Habib Wicks.

[edit] Death

Indrani Rahman died on February 5, 1999 in Manhattan, New York.

[edit] Awards

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