Milena Salvini (23 April 1933 – 25 January 2022) was an Italian-born French exponent and teacher of Indian classical dance. Especially known for her services to Kathakali, in 2019 she was awarded India's fourth highest civilian award, the Padma Shri.[1]

Life and career

Salvini was born in 1933 in Milan, Italy. Her father died when she was four years old. Her mother brought her to France, where she began learning music.[2] She also studied modern dance, performing with the Ballets Contemporaines de Karin Waehner in Sensemaya by Sara Pardo in 1963.[3]

In 1962, Salvini obtained a two-year scholarship to train in Kathakali at the Kerala Kalamandalam.[4] Upon her return to France, she established a tour by the Kathakali troupe of the Kalamandalam under the auspices of UNESCO.[2]

Salvini and Filipuzzi opened the Mandapa Centre in Paris, France, in 1975 to teach classical dance.[5] In 1980, she arranged for the Kalamandalam's Kutiyattam troupe to travel to Europe with funding from UNESCO. In 1999, another Kutiyattam tour she organised resulted in UNESCO encouraging an application to its newly established Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity programme.[6] Kutiyattam was added to the list in May 2001.[7]

Personal life and death

She married Roger Filipuzzi, an architect in 1974.[2] Her daughter Isabelle Anna is also an Indian classical dancer, specialising in Kathak.[8]

Salvini died in Paris on 25 January 2022 at the age of 88.[9][10]

Selected works


  1. ^ "Padma Awards" (PDF). Padma Awards, Government of India. Retrieved 25 January 2019.
  2. ^ a b c "Milena Salvini and Roger Filipuzzi: A life built on passion". Chestnut. 30 May 2012. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
  3. ^ Jacqueline Robinson (1998). Modern Dance in France: An Adventure 1920-1970. pp. 387–388. ISBN 9789057020155.
  4. ^ V. Kaladharan (27 January 2006). "In the footsteps of the maestros". The Hindu. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
  5. ^ Nathaniel Herzberg (3 June 2011). "Vingt-huit heures de musique indienne orchestrées par Ariane Mnouchkine et Milena Salvini". Le Monde. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
  6. ^ Leah Lowthorp. "Voices on the Ground: Kutiyattam, UNESCO, and the Heritage of Humanity". Journal of Folklore Research. 52 (2–3): 162, 175.
  7. ^ Sudha Gopalakrishnan (2011). "Kutiyattam: UNESCO Proclamation and the Change in Institutional Model and Patronage". Indian Folklife (38).
  8. ^ Nisha M. (18 December 2009). "Dance is universal". The Hindu. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
  9. ^ "പത്മശ്രീ മിലേന സാൽവിനി അന്തരിച്ചു". Malayala Manorama. Retrieved 26 January 2022.
  10. ^ "Noted Kathakali Dancer & Padma Shri Recipient Milena Salvini Of France Passes Away, PM Modi Expresses Grief". ABP. 26 January 2022. Retrieved 26 January 2022.