Guru Sandhya Desai (1940 - 2022)

Shavira Narrandes

It is with great sadness we announce the passing of our Kathak Guru Sandhya Desai at the age of 82, on August 7th, 2022. Sandhya Aunty has been part of our school for nearly 10 years and has paid us several visits with her student and our visiting instructor Pooja Kulkarni. We were lucky and very grateful to have Sandhya Aunty present for our last Kathak Aradhana graduation (2017) and the first Rang Pravesh in Manitoba, featuring our student and senior instructor Shavira Narrandes (2019). Sandhya aunty will be greatly missed but her legacy will continue on in our students. Below is the biography we have of her published in 2019.

Sandhya Desai, a senior disciple of the world-famous Kumudini Lakhia, is a Kathak artist of international repute for the last 40 years. She is the principal teacher at “Kadamb”, one of India’s top Kathak institutions. Sandhya has given performances in India, China, Pakistan, Sweden, Germany, Russia, Canada, and the U.S.A. She received the India Cultural Ministry Fellowship for Innovation in Kathak in 1995 and the Gujurat State Award for outstanding contribution to Indian Classical Dance in 1997. She was the Creative Director of the Anila Sinha Dance Foundation in Chicago from 2005 to 2007 and is the founder of North America’s first Kathak Festival which featured the world’s top Kathak pioneers: Birju Maharaj, Kumudini Lakhia, and Chitresh Das. Sandhya now spends her time between Canada and India and has made many choreographic contributions to the dance scene in Toronto. Her recent credits include “The Evolution of Indian Classical Dance and Music”, Festival of the Ghungaroos at the Betty Oliphant Theatre, and the Kathak Mahotsav at Harbourfront Centre 2010-2012. Guru Sandhya Desai has been instrumental in guiding many local artists and contributed largely with her choreographic work for shows such as Essense of Kathak 2017, 2018.

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