Born: 24 August 1944
Died: 24 June 1997
- He was a dancer from India, who was the foremost exponent of Indian classical dance Odissi.
- He was the first Odia woman to embrace this ancient classical dance at an early age and ensure its grand revival.
- In recognition of her contribution to dancing and associated activities, she was honored with one of India’s highest civilian awards, Padma Shri (1975).
- She is also a recipient of the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1976.
- Apart from presenting Odissi performances in different parts of India, she has been a part of the Government’s cultural delegation to different countries, including to the US and the Philippines (1969), United Kingdom (1983), Israel, Delphi International Festival in Greece (1989).
- She has also performed in France for eleven weeks and participated there at the International Music Festival in Paris.
- The initial years were very challenging for her and her husband, more in terms of eking out a living than anything else.
- Though things turned for the better, when in 1966, her guru Kelucharan Mahapatra was conferred with the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, and she rendered an Odissi performance during the award ceremony in New Delhi.
- The audience was enthralled by her performance.
- She had made her mark at the national level, and from that point, she did not look back.
- Meanwhile, her husband had emerged as a fine vocalist and also started rendering music for her performances.
- In the coming decades, the Sanjukta-Raghunath duo enthralled the audience, even outlasting the Yamini-Jyothismathi duo, and were jointly awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1976.
- She later came to be known as Guru Kelucharan Mahapatra’s greatest disciple, and they traveled the length and the breadth of India, performing together and popularising the almost lost dance form of Odissi, so much so that today, both are considered equal revivalists of the dance form.
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August 24, 2019