Bela Barsha

Senior and much loved and respected classical dancer Sonal Mansingh, my memories of her goes back to when I was a child, and how my late mother will tell me that she and Sonalji had once danced together when they both were children. My mother who would not continue her practice was a teacher. And seeing Sonalji the child in me will start acting. This child wouldn't even behave when this Friday, 20th July, Sonal Mansingh was getting facilitated, at IGNCA, of which she is a trustee, for becoming a Rajya Sabha member, nominated by the President, he wanted to click a selfie with her. The day at IGNCA saw a lot of her admirers from the field of art and culture, music and dance. And dancer Geeta Chandran, when showered her with 'Bela' flowers the gods of Indian Classical Dance must've been thinking positive, for they could see that now they have the devotee, who will make them happy.


Divya A
While I was planning to share some photographs of the felicitation function, I read this beautiful piece on her in Indian Express. Thanks to Divya A who could permit me to use her article with these photos. 

Bharat R Tiwari

Can you read it!

‘The colour of art is not saffron or green, it’s gold’

It was in 1986 when sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar was nominated to the Rajya Sabha. The next representation in the Upper House of the Parliament from the field of performing arts has come almost four decades later. Last week, veteran classical dancer Sonal Mansingh was among the four eminent personalities chosen to represent their respective fields, the others being former MP Ram Shakal, RSS thinker Rakesh Sinha and Odisha sculptor Raghunath Mohapatra.


It’s not for me to say, it’s for others to assess,” said the 74-year-old artiste of the nomination, a day after taking oath in Parliament. She adds, “It is a validation of art, culture and Indian tradition.” No sooner than she took the oath, she was asked if she would be attending Parliament or be an absentee member like some others. “I will be present whenever the session is on, not only to register my presence but also to observe, listen and learn,” she answered.

dance rools

Born in Mumbai in 1944, Mansingh started learning Manipuri dance at the age of four. By the time she turned seven, she had begun classes in Bharatanatyam as well. In the last six decades, she has used dance forms such as Manipuri, Chhau and Bharatanatyam to address social issues, and mentored youngsters in a school that she started in the garage of her rented house in Delhi in 1977.


In 2004, she was appointed chairperson of Sangeet Natak Akademi. However, she had to resign when a number of artistes protested against her “dictatorial” attitude. Looking back, she now calls it “first big example of political interference in the arts” by the UPA government.

Some ligher moments... With Dr. Sachidanand Joshi, Member Secretary IGNCA

“What started at the time was very sad for the arts. Now, artistes are questioned if they are saffron or not,” says Mansingh. “To them (artists), I want to say, the colour of art is not saffron or green, it’s gold,” she says. Real secularism, she adds, lies in the performing arts. “There may be left or right in theatre and literature, not in music and dance,” says Mansingh, a trustee of the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts and member of the Central Advisory Board on Culture.

and the rain of flowers continus 

The whole colour palate of nature is so beautiful, every imaginable colour is there. Sun is saffron, and you can’t do anything about it. Rivers, oceans are blue. Art is like a rainbow, you can’t miss out any colour.” No wonder then that Indradhanush is among her major choreographic works, besides Manavatta, Devi Durga, Mera Bharat and Draupati.


Mansingh, who received the Padma Bhushan (1992) and Padma Vibhushan (2003) for her contribution to dance, says, “Dance is not just entertainment. It isn’t just naach-gaana. It’s all about what people take home when they leave the auditorium.” Currently, she is preparing for her inaugural speech in the Rajya Sabha. “I don’t know whether it will happen in this session or the next, but I should have something concrete to say,” she adds.

One for the camera.... with Dr. Sachidanand Joshi, Member Secretary IGNCA, and Malvika Joshi 

In keeping with that, she plans to hold consultations with the art fraternity on a regular basis so that she can voice their issues in the House. But she has a fair idea on where she will begin. “In any country, patronage is a must for art and culture to flourish. There are major issues of art infrastructure in India, there are hardly any spaces which allow the artistes to put forward their best. But CSR only applies to sports and education, not in art and culture. This should change,” she adds.


Divya A

1 comment:

  1. Finally a voice of the arts in politics..Next up Sonal Mansingh for President


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