Sonal Mansingh

Dr. Sonal Mansingh (Hindi: सोनल मानसिंह) (b. May 1 1944) is an eminent Indian classical dancer and choreographer of Odissi dancing style; who is also proficient in other Indian classical dancing styles including Bharatnatyam , Kuchipudi, and Chhau .


Early life and education

Sonal Mansingh was born on May 1, 1944 in Mumbai, second of three children to Arvind and Poornima Pakvasa, a noted social worker from Gujarat and Padma Bhushan winner in 2002. Her grandfather was Mangal Das Pakvasa, a freedom fighter, and one of the first five Governors of India .

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, and later started learning Odissi from Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra in 1965.


Her dancing career which started in 1962, after her arangetram in Mumbai, and in 1977, she founded, Centre for Indian Classical Dances (CICD) in New Delhi .

Over the years, dance has taken her all over the world and brought her many awards, including the Padma Bhushan (1992), Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1987, and the Padma Vibhushan, India's the second highest civilian award, in 2003; making her the first woman dancer in India to receive such an honour . This was followed by Kalidas Samman of Madhya Pradesh Government, in 2006 and on April 21 2007, she was conferred with Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa) by G.B. Pant University, Uttarakhand at Pantnagar .

To mark the completion of her 40 years in dancing in 2002, noted Hindi film director, Prakash Jha made a documentary film on her, title Sonal , which also won the National Film Award for Best Non-Feature Film for the year .


  • Indradhanush
  • Manavatta
  • Mera Bharat
  • Draupadi
  • Gita Govinda
  • Sabras
  • Chaturang
  • Panchkanya
  • Devi Durga
  • Aatmayan
  • Samanavaya


  • "A dancer is not just a dancer. She is part of this environment. She does not exist in a vacuum. Society and its happenings have an impact on all individuals, especially artists. If an art form does not reflect the existing milieu, it stagnates."
  • "Radha is a grand image too but she's a personification of love without which there is no creation. In our male-dominated mythology the image of Krishna at the feet of Radha, begging for her love, is most unusual. Gita Govind invokes deep spiritual thoughts, packaged in beautifully written verses".


  • The Penguin Book of Indian Dance by Sonal Mansingh, Penguin Books Australia. ISBN 0140139214.
  • Classical Dances by Sonal Mansingh, Avinash Pasricha, Varsha Das. 2007, Wisdom Publications. ISBN 8183280676.
  • Draupadi, by Sonal Mansingh; Museum Society of Bombay, 1994.

Further reading

  • Sonal Mansingh Contribution to Odissi Dance by Jiwan Pani. 1992, Centre for Indian Classical Dances. ISBN 8173040028.
  • Bharata Natyam: Indian Classical Dance Art, by Sunil Kothari. MARG Publications, 1979. Page 169-170.


  • India’s 50 Most Illustrious Women (ISBN 81-88086-19-3) by Indra Gupta

See also

External links

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