Sonal Mansingh is one of the leading exponent of Odissi, an ancient classical dance form of Orissa. She has been called a philosopher among dancers for her opinions and interpretations. Apart from a dancer, she is a known social activist, thinker, researcher, orator, choreographer and teacher.
Sonal has had training in Bharatnatyam, Chaau dance and Indian music. She has been on stage since 1964. In 1977, she founded the Centre for Indian Classical Dances (CICD) in Delhi which has churned out many talented artists. Her renowned choreographic works based on Indian Mythology as well as contemporary issues include ‘Indradhanush’, Manavatta’, ‘Sabras’, ‘Devi Durga’, ‘Aatmayan’, ‘Mera Bharat’, ‘Draupati’ etc. She has traveled widely and given performances all over India and abroad.
In her opinion dance is a part of the environment and dance forms should reflect issues of the society and she firmly believes that art forms has the power to bring even countries closer. Some of her choreographic works reflects issues concerning women and environment. She participates actively in environment related seminars and conduct lectures sharing her perceptions.
She started learning Manipuri dance at age four, along with her elder sister, from a teacher in Nagpur, then at age seven she started learning Bharatnatyam from various gurus belonging to the Pandanallur school, including Kumar Jayakar in Bombay. She has “Praveen” and “Kovid” degrees in Sanskrit from Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan and B.A. (Hons) degree in German Literature from Elphinstone College, Bombay.
Though, her real training in dance started when at age 18, despite her family’s opposition, she went to Bangalore, to learn Bharatanatyam from Prof. U. S. Krishna Rao and Chandrabhaga Devi at age 18, abhinaya from Mylapore Gowri Ammal, and later started learning Odissi from Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra in 1965.
Awards & Titles
Sonal Mansingh had received several honours and awards. It includes the coveted ‘Padma Bhushan’ in 1992, ‘Singar Mani’ from Haridas Sangeet Sammelan, ‘Natya Kala Ratna’ from National Cultural Organisation, ‘Rajiv Gandhi Excellence Award’, ‘Indira Priya Darshini Awards’, Medals of Friendship ofVietnam and Cuba State Council etc. Rewarded with Padma Vibhushan in 2003, Sonal becomes the firstIndian woman dancer to receive this high honour.