Kathak exponent, thinker and author Shovana Narayan stands out for two major reasons – her ability to effectively perform two distinctive roles with ease and her capability to produce and direct international collaborative works. Much like her guru, Pandit Birju Maharaj, Shovana is famous as both performer and a guru and for making Kathak an internationally recognizable dance form. Her efforts to fuse Kathak with other major dance forms like Western Classical Ballet, tap dance and Spanish Flamenco are exceptional. Some of her choreographed works like ‘Moonlight Impressionism’ and ‘The Dawn After’ have been successful in bringing out the true color of different dance and musical forms. She was instrumental in releasing a dance video titled 'Dance of the Temples' which talks about the legend of Khajuraho temples. She is also the first dancer to have rejuvenated the soliloquy tradition, the narrative tradition of the North-Indian dance form in 'Shakuntala'. She also directed and produced ballets on first war of independence and Guru Gobind Singh’s Ter – a centenary celebration.
Every year, Shovana organizes a host of events. For the last several years, she has been organizing ‘Lalit Arpan Festival’, an event dedicated to the young torchbearers of classical arts. For the last twenty years, she has been organizing the Asavari festival, which features maestros of classical arts and an event called ‘Rhythm & Joy’ which is dedicated to the young learners of Kathak.
She was also the first dancer to work on philosophical themes and on the lives of spiritual beings like Vivekananda, Ramana Maharshi, Ramkrishna Paramhansa and Mahatma Gandhi.
Some of her well-known books are: Indian Classical Dances, Performing Arts in India: A Policy Perspective, Indian Theatre and Dance Traditions, Rhythmic Echoes & Reflections: Kathak, The Dance Legacy of Patliputra, Sterling Book of Indian Classical Dances, Folk Dance Traditions of India, Kathak Meandering Pastures of Memories.
Shovana Narayan has been conferred with numerous awards including the Padmashri Award for excellence and outstanding contribution to dance in 1992 and the Sangeet Natak Akademi award in 1999. She has also been awarded with Rajiv Smriti Puraskar, Indira Priyadarshini Samman, Rotary International Award and Japan's Oisca Award among many other awards. In total, she holds over 30 international and national awards.