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Narayana Menon

(b Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, May 13, 1918; d ? Madras, 1984). South Indian dancer and musician. Her family included many distinguished dancers and musicians since the 18th century; during the 19th century some of her forebears studied with Subbaraya Śāstri. Her formal training as a dancer started when she was four under the noted teacher Kandappan Pillai (1899–1942), himself the inheritor of a great tradition, and her mother taught her music. When she was seven her araṇkeṟṟam (formal début) took place at the Kāmākṣi Ammaṉ temple, Kanchipuram, and her professional début was two years later in Madras. As a girl she was already an accomplished and mature dancer with a very large repertory, but she continued to study, notably the basis of abhinaya (dramatic expression) and its improvisation. She became a musician in her own right and a leading exponent of forms such as padam and jāvali...


Megan E. Hill

(b Ganghwa Island, South Korea, 1954). South Korean dancer, naturalized American. She was exposed to traditional Korean dance from a young age through the shamanistic Buddhist rituals that her family hosted when she was a child. At the age of four she moved with her family to the capital city of Seoul. From age six she was encouraged by her parents to study dance, and at age 13 she entered an art and performance school (kwonbon). She immigrated to the United States after she finished a tour there in 1981.

Park became involved with the Korean immigrant community in New York, including the Association for Korean Performing Arts. She later established a branch of the Korean Traditional Music Association in New York (1993) under the appellation Korean Traditional Performing Arts Association and founded Sounds of Korea, a performance group dedicated to preserving Korea’s traditional performing arts....



J. Ryan Bodiford

[Mebarak Ripoll, Shakira Isabel ]

(b Barranquilla, Colombia, Feb 2, 1977). American Singer, songwriter, dancer, and philanthropist. The daughter of a Colombian mother and an American-born father of Lebanese descent, Shakira demonstrated her talents in the performing arts at an early age. After winning local talent competitions and establishing a dance troupe at the modeling school which she attended, Shakira began her professional career at age 13 when she was awarded a three-album record deal with Sony Music. She has since become a globally renowned singer, songwriter, dancer, and philanthropist, whose musical style incorporates rock, pop, Latin rhythms, and Arabic infusions.

Following two commercial flops, Shakira established her popularity throughout Latin America with her 1996 release, Pies descalzos. This album produced a series of pan–Latin American hits and sold more than four million copies. Her fan base was extended further into the non-Spanish speaking world with the Middle Eastern tinged worldwide hit, “Ojos así,” produced by Emilio Estefan and included on the album ...


Stephen Slawek

(b Udaipur, Dec 8, 1900; d Calcutta, Sept 26, 1977). Indian dancer and choreographer. He was the eldest son of Pandit Shyam Shankar Choudhury and the elder brother of the sitār player and composer Ravi Shankar. He showed a strong interest in the performing and expressive arts during his childhood, performing his own interpretations of the traditional dances of Rajasthan and staging magic shows for his family and friends. In 1918 he began to study art at the Sir J.J. School of Art in Bombay. At the request of his father, who had moved to London in the services of the Maharaja of Jhalawar, Shankar enrolled in the Royal College of Art in London in 1920. Sir William Rothenstein, the Principal of that institution, took an interest in Shankar, advising him to study the Indian paintings housed in the British Museum. Shankar’s earlier attraction to dance was nurtured by his growing understanding of the movements he found represented in the artworks which he studied. Soon after graduating in ...


Jonathan Katz

(b Delhi, Dec 25, 1928). Indian classical dancer, scholar and administrator. She was educated at the Universities of Delhi and Michigan and took her PhD in Indology from Banaras Hindu University, which is among those universities which later awarded her honorary degrees. In addition to her studies in art, history and English and Sanskrit literature she trained in several styles of Indian classical dance. Her numerous published writings show a broad interdisciplinary interest in the cultural, historical and philosophical contexts of Indian art and performing traditions. She has stressed the conceptual links between different Indian arts and has striven to identify underlying symbolic and intellectual themes in the various regional styles and genres she has studied. In her administrative career she has held Indian government posts in cultural policy and has headed departments responsible for archaeology, museums and libraries as well as literary, visual and performing arts. She became first the secretary and then the academic director of the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts in New Delhi. She has held visiting appointments at universities in the USA and has represented India in international conferences, seminars and exhibitions; she has also been a member of UNESCO committees. Under Vatsyayan's leadership the Indira Gandhi Centre has become an important documentation centre for the study of classical Indian texts and traditional Indian philosophy and performing arts. It has also published a series of primary texts and translations, dictionaries and reference works concerning music and other arts. Vatsyayan's academic and administrative achievements have been recognized in a number of national awards including the Padma Shri of the Republic of India in ...