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Modern Dance in India has a relatively short history. Since the perception of 'modern' or 'contemporary' can vary from dancer to dancer, this dance form cannot be defined as easily as the classical dance styles of India. It is also not codified in a detailed manner, as are the classical styles.

Uday Shankar, who was born in the early years of the 20th century, is widely accepted as the Father of Modern Dance in India. This great dancer had a very wide vision, and he appreciated the wonderful variety and scope of expression afforded by the different classical and folk dances extant in the country.

His search for a personal expression led him to incorporate different dance styles, such as Bharata Natyam and Kathakali into his choreographic productions. He established an idyllic institution in the hills of Kumaon, where he invited teachers from different genres to train his troupe in order to groom their bodies to a state where they could produce a varied, rich and contemporary dance vocabulary. Uday Shankar was an idealist as well as a wonderful showman. He was a catalyst in the renaissance of interest in Indian arts during the 1930s and '40s, and he introduced audiences in the West to Indian dance and music through the performances of his troupe.

Some of Uday Shankar's famous works include the innovative ballet, 'Labour and Machinery' and a path breaking film, 'Kalpana,' on the theme of dance.

The institute established by Uday Shankar is now defunct, but his legacy survives in the work of his children and his many disciples, who have their own troupes and students. Today, in addition to the line established by Uday Shankar, there are other practitioners of Modern Dance in India who belong to other schools.

More recently, Dr Manjushree Chaki-Sarkar created a dance idiom which she called Nava Nrityam. With her daughter Ranjabati Sarkar and their troupe based in Calcutta she did a great deal of research and codification of the dance style and presented a large number of choreographic productions. The untimely death of Ranjabati and of her mother Manjushree Chaki-Sarkar was a tragic loss for the world of contemporary dance.

With growing interaction between dance practitioners all over the country and the world, and awareness of important contemporary issues, many classical dancers have also stepped into the realm of contemporary dance through exploration of one or many dance styles. Often martial arts such as Kalaraipayattu of Kerala and Chhau of eastern India are incorpo