Narendra Sharma (1924-2008) was an Indian dancer and choreographer. He was trained in Uday Shankar's school of modern dance. He is regarded as a pioneer in modern Indian dance. For his contributions to the field, he received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for Contemporary Choreography in 1976.
Narendra Sharma was born on 21 September 1924 in Bulandshahar, Uttar Pradesh. He ran away from home at a young age to enrol in Uday Shankar's cultural centre at Almora, where he was mentored by Uday Shankar and Zohra Sehgal. He was initially denied admission due to his young age. In a 2002 interview, Sharma recalled: "They asked me to get the consent of my guardian, but I had closed all doors behind me. When that night I was sitting on a footpath, Dada (Pt Uday Shankar) called me over. He registered my zeal and accepted me as a student. I was the youngest in Dada’s first batch of students who were taught contemporary Indian ballet at Almora."
Sharma started his career in Bombay, where he came under the influence of the Indian People's Theatre Association. His early experiments in choreography were in collaboration with Sachin Shankar, a nephew of Uday Shankar's. In 1954, he moved to Delhi and started his long association with Modern School, New Delhi, as full-time dance teacher. Sharma's move to Delhi was the result of an invitation from the school at the express desire of principal M. N. Kapur. Working with children and adolescents, he cboreographed over 300 productions.
During the early years in Delhi, Sharma also worked with the Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra and helped to create the Ramlila. In the late 1960s, he taught dance for two years at the University of Washington. In 1972, he set up an independent dance group, Bhoomika.
In the 1980s he choreographed several major public performances, e.g. at the opening ceremony of the 1982 Asian Games.
After his retirement from Modern School, Sharma continued to train students and choreograph productions, and remained active as a dancer even in his late seventies. He died on 14 January 2008.
Awards and honours
- Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, 1976
- Sahitya Kala Parishad Award
- Soviet Land Nehru Award