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Our Mentor

Rukmini Devi Arundale, who was born on February 29, 1904, and died on February 24, 1986, was an Indian theosophist, Bharatanatyam dancer and choreographer, and animal rights, campaigner.


Founder of The Kalakshetra Foundation, Chennai.

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"Kalakshetra is an institution not merely for the development of art. It exists in order that youth may be educated, not to become artists alone, but to have the right attitude to life, the right attitude to art, in order that they may be of great service to our country".

Late Rukmini Devi (1904-1986)

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Rukmini Devi Arundale (29 February 1904 – 24 February 1986) was the founder of Kalakshetra, an Indian theosophist, dancer and choreographer of the Indian classical dance form of Bharatanatyam, and an activist for animal rights and welfare.

She is considered the most important revivalist in the Indian classical dance form of Bharatanatyam from its original ‘sadhir’ style, prevalent amongst the temple dancers, Devadasis, she also worked for the
re-establishment of traditional Indian arts and crafts.


Though she belonged to the Indian upper-caste she espoused the cause of Bharatnatyam, which was considered a low and vulgar art in the early 1920s. Recognizing the beauty and the spiritual value of this art form, she not only learned the dance, but also presented it on stage despite strong public protests.

Rukmini Devi features in India Today's list of '100 People Who Shaped India'. She was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1956, and Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship in 1967.    



Renaissance, pioneer, enduring, illustrious,consummate, ingenious, unprecedented. One name from the artiste fraternity that could worthily follow these adjectives is Rukmini Devi Arundale whose name spells
history, and history that repeats itself time and again.



Awards and honours: 


  • Padma Bhushan (1956)

  • Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1957)

  • Desikothama (1972), Viswa Bharati University

  • 1967 Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship

  • Prani Mitra (1968), Friend of All Animals, (Animal Welfare Board of India)

  • Queen Victoria Silver Medal, Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, London

  • Kalidas Samman (1984), Govt of Madhya Pradesh

  • Addition to the roll of honour by The World Federation for the Protection of animals, The Hague

  • Honorary Doctorate, Wayne State University, USA

  • Scrolls of Honour, County and City of Los Angeles

In January 1994, an Act of the Indian Parliament recognised the Kalakshetra Foundation as an 'Institute of National Importance.

Year long celebrations, including lectures, seminars and festivals marked her 100th birth anniversary, on 29 February,


in 2004 at Kalakshetra and elsewhere in many parts of the world, At the campus the day was marked by special function in which old students gathered from across India and the world, in a day of songs and recitals.


Also on 29 February, a photo exhibition on her life opened at the Lalit Kala Gallery in New Delhi, and on the same day, then President APJ Abdul Kalamreleased a photo-biography, written and compiled by Dr Sunil Kothari with a foreword by former president R Venkataraman.



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