Dr Satnarine Balkaransingh
Born in James Smart Village, Manzanilla in Trinidad, of third generation Indian ancestry. Satnarine attended Sangre Chiquito Presbyterian School. A college Exhibitioner in 1960, he attended Hillview College and then served in the Magistracy. He played steelpan music with Cordettes Steel Orchestra, and studied vocal music and Hindi (1967-71) under Guru H.S Adesh.
Through a Gov. of India Scholarship (ICCR) in 1971, he proceeded to India. There he studied Kathak at the Kathak Kendra of the Sangeet Natak Academy, studying the performing arts directly under Gurus Manika Prasad (Tabla), Kathak Dance under Smt Reba Vidyarthi and Pt. Birju Maharaj. He also studied briefly, the Kuchipudi classical dance form from Dr Vempati Chinasatyam at the Kuchipudi Arts academy Chennai. Later in 1980-81 he did a course in Indian folk dancing from Sonar Chand at the Natya Ballet Centre.
Sat graduated from Delhi University with a BA (Hons) in Economics and a Post Grad in Dance from the Kathak Kendra in 1976. He also pursued postgraduate studies in International Law and diplomacy in India,
Returning home in 1976, Sat joined the Public service as an economist/planner. In 1987, through a third scholarship funded jointly by the GORTT of T&T and the EEC he pursued an MSc in Project Planning and National Development at the University of Bradford, UK graduating in 1988. Thereafter he functioned as a senior project analyst, Director, Deputy Permanent secretary and Permanent Secretary in several ministries across the government service of Trinidad and Tobago.
After a long and distinguished career, functioning in the varied disciplines of policy and strategic planning in economics, agriculture, transport, Telecommunications,Housing and Settlements, Tourism, Science, Technology and Tertiary Education, and representing the government of Trinidad and Tobago at International Conferences; regional hemispheric and at the UN, Sat proceeded on early retirement in 2005. He consulted and lectured in Policy, strategic and project planning, research and documentation, and was a part-time lecturer at UWI, St Augustine in diverse fields of Financial Management and in the Arts.
With a fourth scholarship (a grant) in 2007, Balkaransingh graduated from the Univ. of Trinidad & Tobago (UTT) with a PhD in the humanities; in ‘Cultural Studies’. He was the first to receive a PhD in the Humanities from UTT.
A stage-performing artist since the 1960s: musician (Steel band), choreographer, producer/director/balladeer and dancer, Sat has scripted several dance-ballets and directed over 60 stage and TV productions. He co-founded the Nrityanjali Theatre in 1977 and was its Artistic Director up to 2002. A founding member of the .National Dance Association of T&T in 1980, he was its first Secretary, negotiating the first Annual Grant from the Government . for the Association. The Nrityanjali theatre received the National Award, Humming Bird Medal (Gold) for contribution to Culture in 1993.
In 2009, with a group of like-minded persons, Sat founded the Kathak Kala Sangam; an Institute that currently imparts training in vocal and instrumental music and dance. It undertakes lectures, demonstrations, concerts; it supports young artistes and undertakes research and publications. .
Dr Balkaransingh has done commentaries, lectures and public addresses on research studies at international fora on a range of topics and cultural issues related to socio-economic development. As artist he has scripted, conducted training , choreographed and directed over 60 stage and TV productions, including dance Ballets, and performed extensively in India, UK, Asia, North and South America the Caribbean and to local audiences. His work has been featured in the media (Radio/TV); in India, USA, Guyana, and Trinidad and Tobago and on the BBC’s Caribbean Programme.
His personal writings accelerated from the decade of the 1990s, with speeches, balletic scripts, ethnographic, historical and cultural (socio- anthropological) research narratives, including poetry. He has authored several published works on a wide range of topics, from economics and development studies to the creative and performing arts. His published works include KUNUWATON: The Culture and Cuisine of the Santa Rosa First Peoples of Arima, Kairi (Trinidad: SRFPPress, 2014: co-authored); Reigniting the Ancestral Fires: Heritage, Traditions and Legacies of the First Peoples (Trinidad, UTT Press, 2017: co-edited); and THE SHAPING OF A CULTURE. Rituals and Festivals in Trinidad compared with selected counterparts in India; 1990-2014 (London; Hansib, 2016). Another book entitled: Ramleela in Trinidad; 100 years of the Felicity Open-Air Folk Theatre Tradition, is being published in 2020.
A recipient of numerous awards, he has been publicly recognised as a National Icon (2002 and 2019) by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago and a Mentor by the Ministry of Culture of the GORTT (2019) in its programme entitled ‘Mentoring by the Masters’.
Dr. Balkaransingh lectures internationally on diverse topics including Indian Diasporic issues. He consults, advises and serves as a member of several organisations, both locally and internationally, even as he continues to write and teach.