Shovana Narayan needs no introduction. A name synonymous with Kathak, Narayan — much like her guru Pandit Birju Maharaj — is famous as both a performer and a guru.
After completing her college education at Miranda House in Delhi, she went on to complete her master’s degree in Physics. In 2001, she completed M. Phil in Social Sciences from Punjab University and in 2008, she successfully completed her MPhil in Defense and Strategic Studies from the University of Madras. She formally learnt Kathak at Kathak Kendra in Delhi and was trained by Pandit Birju Maharaj and Kundanlal Gangani.
Narayan was the first-ever Indian professional dancer who, for a long period of time, combined a full-fledged career as a senior serving civil servant in the Government of India, before retiring from her services in 2010.
While performing at international dance festivals, Narayana made critics and others take note of Kathak by fusing the dance form with Spanish Flamenco and Western Classical Ballet.
With the help of Sanskrit & Epigraphy scholar Dr KK Mishra, she went on to prove the existence of Kathak during 4th Century BC, making the dance form one of the oldest in India. She has also written several books on Kathak.
An outstanding officer enjoying high credibility and integrity, she served in challenging assignments such as in the Ministry of Water Resources, Ministry of Finance, Rajya Sabha, BSNL, as the Asst Returning Officer in Presidential Elections of 1992, as DG of ICISA (International Centre for Information Systems and Audit) in CAG of India and as the Special Director General, Commonwealth Games 2010 Delhi where she conceived, organized and delivered the spectacular Opening & Closing Ceremonies with thundering success.
Some of the awards conferred on her include the Padmashri Award for excellence and outstanding contribution to dance by the President of India in 1992 and yet again the Sangeet Natak Akademi award by the President of India for 1999-2000. Apart from these, she has won Delhi Govt’s Parishad Samman, Japan’s Oisca Award, Rajiv Gandhi Puraskar, Bihar Gaurav Puraskar, Indira Priyadarshini Samman, Rotary International Award, International Congress of Women, Kalpana Chawla Excellence Award, Dadabhai Naoroji Award and CNN IBN’s Guru Shishya Award, 2012, Guru ML Koser Award, 2013, Guru Deba Prasad Award 2013, Art Karat Award 2014, Bharat Nirman’s Social Responsibility Award, 2014 & Rotary SHREYAS Award 2014.
She has also highlighted the need for water conservation and saving the Ganga through her art form and will be a guest at Network18 and Reckitt’s Mission Paani event on World Toilet Day on November 19.