Arts & Expression, South Asian, Dance
She is an outstanding proponent of Odissi Nrutya. In 1955, she graduated from the Kalamandir Dance Institute of Cuttack, Orissa, where she learned under the late Guru Sri Mahadev Rout and the late Guru Sri Battakrushna Sena. She holds a bachelors of Arts degree from the National Music Association of Cuttack, Orissa, and a bachelor’s degree in Sanskrit and Economics from Utkal University.
Chitralekha is one of the very few living Odissi dancers who learned directly from all three ‘Fathers of Odissi’: the late Padmasri Pankaj Charan Das, the late Padmabibhushan Kelucharan Mohapatra and the late Guru Sri Deba Prasad Das.
She is also one of the single greatest contributors to the popularization of Odissi in North America, both through her own teaching and performance activities and through her sponsorship of her renowned colleague, Padmasri Gangadhar Pradham.
She began performing across North America in 1972 and has been teaching dance since 1975. In 1980, she founded the Chitralekha Dance Academy to expound and propagate Odissi to a new generation of artists. She had choreographed many original works within the traditional discipline as well as semi-classical works and various other farmaish items from different parts of India.
She was awarded the title of Kalasri by the Orissa Society of the Americas in 1992. In 1994, she co-founded Chitralekha Odissi Dance Creations Incorporated with her children, Ellora and Devraj.
Chitralekha believes strongly in the interconnectedness of life and art and has devoted her life to the preservation, teaching and dissemination of Odissi dance.