Only a few know that the late Pandit Ravi Shankar started his career as a dancer in his brother, Uday Shankar’s troupe. That was between 1930-1938. He was in his early teens, then.
Ravi Shankar was to tour Europe four times with the celebrated troupe and by the time he was eighteen, he was a stage veteran. However, all the while, his primary role in the troupe was that of a dancer.
During this time, he was influenced by the Ustad Allauddin Khan and the rest is history…
There was this French dancer called Simone Barbier aka Simkie in Uday Shankar’ group, who was very famous. A french documentary about her, released an year ago, is a revelation in itself. But, for this post, in this documentary, there is a hidden gem where Pt. Ravi Shankar does an “attami”, where he explains that the then French orientalist-themed dancers/cabaret would do a “faux-attami” as they could not mimic it properly. (Thanks to blogger Minai for posting about Simkie)
Drag it to time stamp 23:31 onwards in this video and you can see what I mean above.
May God rest his soul in peace!