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Mala Gaur (Nov 4, 1952 - Sept 8, 2017)
- Ashish Mohan Khokar
(Inputs by Ambika Paniker)

September 11, 2017

Mala Gaur
Photo courtesy: Attendance

Goa's prime ballet and Bharatanatyam talent and teacher passed away on 8th Sept 2017 of cancer. Mala Gaur was born on Nov 4, 1952 in Kolkata into a family that was linked to Bengali theatre and films. Moving to Delhi as a child, she was exposed to various arts - Bengali theater, dance and music - one of her older sisters being Aloka Paniker, who is the well known Orissi dancer and teacher.

Mala Gaur's first exposure to performing on stage came at the school level when she took part in choreographies of senior choreographer Valmiki Banerjee. Her first formal training in Bharatanatyam started in Mumbai at Natyalaya founded by Vyjayantimala Bali. Her first guru was Umadevi Pillai, from whom Mala underwent long term training. Moving to Goa after marriage, she found her second guru Pulin Goswami at the Kala Akademi. Undergoing long and intensive training under his guidance, Mala completed her 'Kushal' with distinction.

Mala Gaur and students
Photo courtesy: Ambika Paniker

Later she also learnt from Guru T. Mahalingam Pillai. Soon after she started performing and teaching and was considered one of the most popular dancers of Bharatanatyam in Goa. Despite many odds, she carried on, creating dance pieces, performing and teaching. This was chiefly due to her love for dance and a very strong will. She loved Goa as she felt that Goa gave her a lot of freedom as an artiste.

Mala Gaur passed away on the night of 8th of September 2017, after fighting a long and tortuous battle with cancer. She is deeply mourned and missed by her many students and family members.

Mala Gaur, rest in peace...

The author is a senior critic, historian with interest in cultural policy, international exchange and helps dance in many ways. He edits attenDance, now in its 20th year and mentors many.

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