Garima Hazarika, a renowned Sattriya dance exponent, passed away on Friday in Guwahati from old-age related illness. She was 83.
She left behind a granddaughter, a son and a daughter-in-law. Her husband Krishnamurthi Hazarika, who too was a classical dancer, died a few years ago. Hazarika, who pioneered the performance of women dancers in Sattriya dance form, the popular classical dance from Assam, was also a skilled Odissi and Kathak dancer.
The Sattriya dancing style was once only performed by the male residents of “sattras” or Vaishnav monasteries. With the assistance of renowned scholar Maheswar Neog, Hazarika dedicated her life to spreading the dance form throughout the world and became one of the exponents who opened the doors for women to perform on stage.
She is also credited with creating Sattriya dance costumes in a style more appropriate for the women dancers.
Hazarika began training in Kathak at an early age under the tutelage of Guru Charu Bordoloi, and she later studied Sattriya under the guidance of Guru Rosheshwar Saikia and Borbayan Ghana Kanta Bora of the Kamlabari Sattra.
She resided in Delhi till 1968 while she was a student at the Delhi School of Art. When she encountered Odissi dancer Indrani Rehman there, she recognised the common elements in the two dance forms of Odissi and Sattriya. She thereafter became Guru Surendra Nath Jena’s first Assamese disciple and started learning Odissi dance. Upon her return to Assam, Hazarika established the Mitali Kala Kendra, a centre for classical and traditional dances, where she also taught choreography, art direction, painting, mask-making and costume design.
She actively participated in stage and costume design, choreography and other aspects of mobile theatre throughout the state before writing 16 dance dramas. Hazarika choreographed many performances in 16 Assamese movies.
She was a recipient of several honours, including the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, Assam Silpi Divas, and Assam Natya Sanmilan awards.