Rukmini Devi Arundale – Performing Artist and Theosophist

Rukmini Devi Arundale in 1940 (source)

Sri Rukmani Devi, the famous Bharatanatyam dancer as she appeared on October 6, 1940. (source)

Rukmini Devi Arundale, born 29 Feb 1904, was an Indian dancer, choreographer, and theosophist. She was important in the revival of the classical dance form Bharatnatyam. Listed as one of India Today’s “100 People Who Shaped India, she is the recipient of the Padma Bhushan in 1956, and Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship in 1967.

Through her father, Rukmini was introduced to Theosophy and met and married British theosophist George Arundale. She became the President of the All-India Federation of Young Theosophists (1923) and President of the World Federation of Young Theosophists (1925). With her husband she traveled frequently and on one of her trips she began a friendship with Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. Through Pavlova, Rukmini began to study dance and was encouraged to investigate traditional forms of Indian dance.

The Arundale’s were involved in promoting education as well and established Kalakshetra, a music and dance academy, and schools using the Montessori method such as the Besant Theosophical High School and the Besant Arundale Senior Secondary School. Later Rukmini became involved in promoting animal welfare by setting up the Animal Welfare Board of India and promoting the Prevention of CRuelty to Animals Act.

Find out what else happened on February 29 in Women’s History.

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