Dance Pioneer Astad Deboo Dies In Mumbai At 73, Artistes Mourn Loss

Contemporary Indian dancer Astad Deboo, known for amalgamating Indian and western dance techniques, died here on Thursday, his family said. He was 73. Deboo employed his training in Indian classical dance forms of Kathak as well as Kathakali to create a unique fusion dance form.

“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,” it said.

According to Padma Alva, a longtime friend of Deboo and a former PTI journalist, his funeral was a private affair due to the Covid-19 restrictions. “The funeral was held at Worli here at 11 am. It was a private funeral because of Covid restrictions. So only immediate family members were present,” Alva said.

He once said there was a time when most Indians saw his style as “too western” while westerners found that it was “not Indian enough”. His innovative style of Indian dance may have raised some eyebrows in the 1970s and 80s, but the 1990s saw people embrace this new idiom.

“Astad called me a few days to say it was goodbye. We were in touch every day till Monday when he went under, never to come up again. Have lost a friend of 45 years, a friend of a lifetime,” Alva said.

Actor Anupam Kher took to Twitter to pay tributes to the dance icon and wrote Deboo’s art would be missed. “World of modern dance has lost a pioneer and India has lost a cultural treasure. Dearest #AstadDeboo it was a privilege to know you. Will miss your art, warm persona and your infectious smile! Rest in peace my friend!!#OmShanti,” Kher said.

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