Mumbai: Astad Deboo, the pioneer of contemporary dance in India, and a recipient of the prestigious Padma Shri and Sangeet Natak Akademi awards, passed away on Thursday in Mumbai after a brief illness. He was 73.
Taking to social media, his family wrote in a statement: “Astad’s family is sad to announce the passing away of Astad Deboo. He left us in the early hours of December 10, at his home in Mumbai, after a brief illness, bravely borne. He leaves behind a formidable legacy of unforgettable performances combined with an unswerving dedication to his art, matched only by his huge, loving heart that gained him thousands of friends and a vast, number of admirers.
The loss to the family, friends, fraternity of dancers, both classical and modern, Indian and international, is inestimable. May he rest in peace. We will miss him.”
Deboo, a world renowned Indian contemporary dancer and choreographer, was born in 1947 in Navsari, Gujarat.
He got his training in Indian classical dance forms of Kathak as well as Kathakali to create a dance form that is unique to him, and had become a pioneer of modern dance in India.
Throughout his long and illustrious career, he worked with various prominent performers such as Pina Bausch, Alison Becker Chase and Pink Floyd, and performed in many parts of the world. He was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1996 and Padma Shri in 2007.
The news led to the cultural fraternity paying his tributes to the artist extraordinaire.
T.M. Krishna wrote: “So saddened by the passing of Astad Deboo. He was a very special and generous human being, visionary and stunning dancer. When Astad danced, time did stand still! RIP”.
“Sad! Sad! My dear friend Astad Deboo passed away this morning to cancer. He knew too late. And was spared a long journey with it. But all of us in the dance world will miss his enthusiasm and his love for all forms of movement expression without bias, without judgement and only filled with a love and desire to understand and wonder at them. Rest in peace dear man. Know that you will be sorely missed. Your journey was exemplary, singular and passionate,” Leela Samson said on social media.
In a social media post mourning his death, Ashok Vajpeyi from the Raza Foundation said that Astad Deboo almost singly established contemporary dance in India and danced across the world winning wide acclaim. “An innovator par excellence, he experimented with different musics from across the globe and worked tirelessly with disabled persons.”