Contemporary Indian dancer, Astad Deboo passed away on Thursday, December 10 in Mumbai. He was 73. Deboo was renowned for pioneering a contemporary style threaded with elements of Indian dance such as kathak and kathakali. His contribution to the field of dance earned him a Creative Dance Award from the Sangeet Natak Akademi in 1996 and a Padma Shri in 2007.
Born on July 13, 1947, to a Parsi family in Navsari, Deboo started learning kathak at the age of six. He later honed his skills in contemporary dance at the Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance in New York and the London School of Contemporary Dance. When Deboo returned to India in 1977, he studied kathakali under Guru E Krishna Panikar in Kerala.
Deboo’s career, which spanned 48 years comprised solo, group and collaborative performances. He was especially noted for his work with hearing impaired and street children, and in 2002, founded the Astad Deboo Dance Foundation that imparted dance training to the differently-abled and marginalised sections of society.
Deboo leaves behind a legacy that is rooted not only in the innovations he brought to dance or his unmatched performances but also a largesse of heart as he endeavoured to recognise and train artists across different walks of life.
Image courtesy AstadDeboo.com.