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Myrta Barvié (1933 -2020)
- Silvia Rissi

May 18, 2020

Myrta Barvié (13 January1933 – 15 May 2020) was a pioneer in spreading the knowledge of the classical dances of India in Argentina and Latin America. As a dancer, writer, lecturer and teacher, she presented this art in its most classical, pure and traditional form, just as she learned it in India with her teachers.

Myrta with Rukmini Devi

Myrta at her arangetram with Rukmini Devi

Myrta was a classical ballet dancer, beginning her studies at the age of 8 with the Russian teacher Victoria Tomina who advised her to enter the dance school of the Colón Theater in Buenos Aires. At the age of 14 she joined the permanent dance company of the Colón Theater, where at the age of 17 she debuted as the first dancer in the role of Swanilda of the ballet Coppelia. Shortly thereafter, she made her first trip to India at the invitation of Rukmini Devi, director of the most important dance institute in South India, Kalakshetra. Thus Myrta began the most beautiful and profound relationship with India, its art, wisdom and spirituality.

For many years of her life, she was divided between periods of work in the ballet of the Colón Theater and trips with long stays in India to continue learning her dances and other subjects of her culture. She was a disciple of the great teacher of Odissi, Kelucharan Mohapatra, graduating in this style from the Kala Vikash Kendra institute in Orissa with the title of Nritya Visharad. She studied Kuchipudi at the Kuchipudi Art Academy under the direction of the well-known master Vempati Chinna Satyam.

Myrta has performed countless recitals throughout India and cities of Asia, the Middle East, Europe, the USA and Latin America, especially in Argentina, her country. On several occasions she has been invited to dance at the Presidential Palace in New Delhi, in the presence of the Presidents of India.

Far from the stage, Myrta devoted herself to writing, giving conferences, coordinating and organizing classical dance performances from India. She wrote the first book in Spanish about Indian classical dances titled ‘India and its classical dances.’ And a fiction novel titled ‘The Temple of the Past’ where the plot is intertwined with a deep understanding of India and its history.

Myrta was our contemporary in Kalakshetra during 1954-55, probably the first foreign student admitted in Kalakshetra for short course-2 years. Rukmini Devi composed a short Varnam in Poornachadrika ragam specially for her and later it became a foreigner's item, and part time students were taught. Rukmini Devi had special fascination for Ballet and its technique, so Myrta was given a chance to perform ballet in the main Kalakshetra Art Festival in December at the open air theatre in the Theosophical Society campus.
Being an excellent Ballet artiste, Myrta was able to pick up our naatya quickly and precisely with perfection of "angasudham". She was given special classes under Jayalakshmi Teacher and of course A. Sarada teacher who instilled in her the Kalakshetra stamp of perfection and trained her to do Arangetram in 2 years to the satisfaction of Rukmini Devi and other connoisseurs, making it a historical event in the annals of Kalakshetra history -- that is, doing Arangetram in 2 years, that too a foreigner.
When Myrta visited Chennai 3 years ago along with one of her Bharatanatyam students, she made it a point to visit her old friends like us and tried to revise her old items with us. She was absolutely charming and adorable even at her ripen age which never showed in her disciplined exercised body.
All her friends in Chennai pray for her soul to rest in peace.
- V.P. Dhananjayan. Chennai (May 19, 2020)

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