Google Doodle Celebrates Sitara Devi, the Queen of India’s Kathak Dance

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Fans of Indian dance have reason to celebrate, as Google unveils a new Doodle featuring Sitara Devi, a legendary performer of classical Indian Kathak dance.

Devi was born in Kolkata 97 years ago Wednesday. Over a career that spanned six decades, Devi starred in scores of Hindi films and graced stages around the world, including New York’s Carnegie Hall and London’s Royal Albert Hall.

After seeing her perform at the age of just 16, the Indian author and Nobel Prize laureate Rabindranath Tagore reportedly described Devi as the Nṛitya Sāmrājñi, meaning “Empress of Dance.” The name stuck, and Devi’s fans multiplied, captivated by her “vibrant energy, effortless footwork, and unparalleled ability to bring a story to life,” according to Google.

A renowned performer, Devi is credited with revitalizing interest in Kathak — a centuries-old narrative dance form that derives its name from the Sanskrit word for “storyteller.” Performances often portrayed Indian epics with music, dance, and colorful costumes. While Devi was considered a master of the form, she was also adept in other styles of Indian folk dance, as well as Russian ballet.

Devi died in Nov. 2014 at the age of 94, but her legacy lives on through numerous recorded performances, many available to watch online. Google guest artist Ranganath Krishnamani brings her to life once more with this illustration in her honor.

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