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RANJABATI SARKAR (1963-1999)


Ranjabati Sarkar was the daughter of Manjushree Chaki Sarkar (q.v.). She was born in Nigeria where as a baby she was carried on her mother’s back to her first dance school. In New York she began her training in earnest, and in 1979 when her parents returned to Kolkata, she was already well versed in classical Indian dance. She pursued her interest in dance while doing a BA and MA in English Literature at Jadavpur University, standing First Class First at both levels; she won four gold medals and a UGC fellowship. At JU she met Samantak Das to whom she was married for some years; they separated in the early 1990s and divorced some years later.

Ranjabati was part of Dancers’ Guild, the dance troupe founded by her mother. The Guild’s work was consciously feminist and revolutionary, drawing on a wide variety of folk arts, myths, legends and contexts to generate a unique form, Navanritya. Ranjabati was a compelling performer. She performed at the Kalanubhavamanjari festival in Madras and the New Directions Festival, New Delhi in 1993, the National Centre for the Performing Arts, Bombay, in 1994 and 1996, the Sangeet Natak Akademi Chorography Festival, Calcutta in 1994, Festival Creadores in 1991 and Festival Danza por la Vida in 1992, both in Caracas, the Vivarta Festival, London in 1992, on board the Queen Elizabeth II in 1994 and 1995, as part of the Magdalena Project, Cardiff in 1995, at the Festival Vailarin Creador, Caracas in 1995, at the Women in World Music Festival, New York in 1995, the Maison des Cultures du Monde, Paris 1996, where she performed a piece called Wounded Earth, the Center Culturel Francais, Dakar 1997, the Commonwealth Festival, Edinburgh 1998. She also won the Dance Umbrella Award. She committed suicide after her mother’s death in 1999.
 
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