Living Legend

Guru Kalavati Devi


Guru Kalavati Devi,

a Top Grade Artiste of Doordarshan (Indian National Television) and the Head of the Manipuri Dance Department at Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata, is a vibrant dancer, a skilled musician (vocalist and pung player) singer, an ingenious choreographer and a meticulous teacher.


Khajuraho Festival, Konarak Festival, Nishagandhi Festival, Mamallapuram Festival, Soorya Festival, Vishwa Banga Sammelan, National Center for Performing Arts, Nehru Center, India Habitat Center to name a few. Her tours abroad have been on private invitation and also as a Delegate of the Indian Govt. Some of the major tours are USA, Canada,Russia,Africa,Italy,England,France, Germany, Belgium,Switzerland,Thailand,Philippines,Japan,North Korea,Singapore etc. She was appointed as the Manipuri Dance Guru by the Indian Council for Cultural relations (ICCR) and the Indian High Commission in Bangladesh for a tenure of 6 years for the Cultural Center of the Indian High Commission in Dhaka, Bangladesh.


She examines the doctoral theses on Manipuri dance and is the co-author of various books along with Padmashree Darshana Jhaveri. Some of them are Shastriya Manipuri Nartan, Manipuri Nartan and Manipuri Tala Prakash. She carried out an intensive research work on the ancient Manipuri Tala System and the very rare talas of Manipur mentioned in the two ancient treatises Mridanga Samgraha and Mridanga Vyavastha Sangeet. She is the paper setter and examiner of various universities like Viswa Bharati University, Bhatkhande Music College (deemed university in Lucknow) and Banasthali Vidyapith (Rajasthan).


Guru Kalavati Devi who with her experience and exposure to the competitive field of dance in a metropolitan city where the competition is not only between the individual dancers but is between the various dance forms as well, could further pull the boundary of the style created by Guru Bipin Singh. She had tried to contemporarize the style by making it more vivacious and attractive and thus make it more popular and apt for the modern sensibility. She artistically played further with movements of the various aspects of Manipuri dance and remodeled them to suit a particular theme and even the physical stature of her students. Her creations were highly praised from national to international level. Her ballets included those whose thematic content mainly revolved around mythological tales like Krishnaleela, Goshthaleela, Ek Gopi Ek Shyam and dance dramas of Tagore like Bhanushingher Padavali, Chitrangada, Kal Mrigaya and Tasher Desh. Infact choreographing Tasher Desh was like a challenge to her as she had to modify the free flowing, wave like movements of Manipuri dance to rigid postures in order to match with the stiffness of the cards that represented the age-old social bondages and crumbling frame of mind.

She is also adept in making traditional Manipuri dance costumes. Presently, Guru Kalavati Devi's main aim is to revive the old classical traditional dances and music of Manipur and reconstruct them for the modern proscenium stage. 


Guru Kalavati Devi receiving the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award 2003 from the former
President, Abdul Kalam

Recipient of the very prestigious Manipur State Kala Akademi Award  2002, Sangeet Natak Akademi Award 2003 and the Arany Banerjee Memorial Award.



Bullet The stunning performance by Kalavati Devi casts a spell.  – The Statesman 


Bullet In Manipuri Nartanalaya’s latest production Maharaas, Kalavati’s choreography and presentation maintained the high standard of Manipuri Nartanalaya. – The Telegraph 


Bullet In the field of Manipuri dance, Kalavati Devi remains unparalleled………..she wished to dance with a rendition by Suchitra Mitra. This coming together of the two stalwarts was a rare occasion and a celebration in itself. – The Statesman


Bullet Rabindra Bharati University’s production of Bhanushingher Padavali scored highly on the broad shoulders of choreographer Kalavati Devi. – The Telegraph