The legendary dancer Sitara Devi was born in Kolkata on 8th November, 1920. Rabindranath Tagore describes her as Nritya Samragini when she was just 16 which means empress of dance.
In her career, she performed at well-known concerts including Royal Albert Hall, Carnegie Hall, London, New York. She introduced the kathak dance form to a global audience.
Sitara Devi was also a part of many Hindi movies. And she went to Mumbai as a child artist. As a child artist, her first film was “Aurat Ka Dil”. She also starred in “Phool” by Mughal-e-Azam director K. Asif with whom she later went on to marry. But their marriage ended and she married Pratap Barot.
Her father, Sukhadev Maharaj was a learned dancer and musician. He was Well versed in Natya Shastra. He taught his daughter the concepts of tandava and lasya. She was responsible for introducig and popularising the classical dance form.
In an Interview she says, “People were horrified after hearing the ghungroo sounds from our house, as only tawaifs wore ghunguroo. But my father declared that his daughter would not be stucked in a life of dishwashing and household work. Then people said that, will they dance in mujras too? She says, “If I am no more and if tomorrow God forbid, Birju Maharaj is no more then it will be the end of classical dance form Kathak”.
She has many awards including the “Sangeet Natak Akademi Award” and the “Padma Shri”.
Her talent was not limited to the Kathak. She was also very well trained in Bharatanatyam and Russian ballet. She always encouraged her students about these forms.
Sitara Devi is an outstanding example of how passion, dedication and practice together marked a life long learning and tremendous success in life.
The Kathak Queen passed away on 25 November, 2014 at the age of 94.