|Occupation||Founder-Director, Kadamb School of Dance and Music|
Kumudini Lakhia (born 1930) is an Indian Kathak dancer and choreographer based in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, where she founded Kadamb School of Dance and Music, a premiere institute of Indian dance and music in 1967 .
A pioneer in contemporary Kathak dance, She is credited for moving away from from the solo form of Kathak starting in the 1960’s, by turning it into a group spectacle, and also innovations like taking away traditional stories and adding contemporary storylines into Kathak repertoire.
She began her career dancing with Ram Gopal as he toured the West, bringing Indian dance to the eyes of people abroad for the first time, and then became a noted dancer and choreographer in her own right. She learned first from various gurus of Jaipur gharana, and then from the renowned Shambhu Maharaj.
She particularly excels in her multi-person choreographies which are renowned for their fresh and innovative use of the performance space while losing none of the pure classicism of the dance form. Some of her most famous choreographies include Dhabkar (Pulse), Yugal (The Duet), and Atah Kim (Where Now?), which she performed at the annual Kathak Mahotsav in the Delhi in 1980, and as dance critic Sunil Kothari later noted, "Those who witnessed the performance were taken aback by the sheer power of Kathak cast in an unusual mould. There was no Krishna, no Radha, no river banks of Jamuna, no bowers of Brindavan, no stealing of butter and no females looking seductively through the ghoonghat. And yet, for the purists, the classicists, there was no room for complaint..." . In each of these, she presented the Kathak dance form in a way that had never been seen before, and which at the time had some purists up in arms. However, these choreographies are now considered classic, and many of the innovations she premiered in them have become so ingrained in Kathak performance that people are unaware that they were once just that: innovations. She was also a choreographer in classic Hindi film, Umrao Jaan (1981), along with Gopi Krishna .
Kumudini Lakhia was awarded the civilian honour of the Padma Shri by the Government of India in 1987 and the Padma Bhushan in 2010, and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award by Sangeet Natak Akademi, India's National Academy Music, Dance and Drama in 1982, and Kalidas Samman for the year 2002-03.