Lilavati Häger (née Devi) was a leading exponent of Indian dance and Bengt was one of the most important European dance impresarios of his day. Bengt Häger (1916-2011) was born and brought up in Malmö in southern Sweden. Following his studies at the University in Stockholm, Bengt went on to found and manage the Swedish Dance Museum and the University College of Dance and Circus in Stockholm. Bengt’s eforts provided Swedish dance an international audience and platform allowing the Scandinavian region to play host to many guest performances by world leading dance companies and artists.
It was due to this reason that the dancer, Lilavati Devi first came to Sweden in 1949 as a principal performer in the successful and well-travelled dance company set up by Ram Gopal (1912-2003). It was while she was in Sweden that she met Bengt Häger. Within a few years they married and the couple became ambassadors for Indian classical dance in Scandinavia where they lived. The couple became a fundamental force in international dance, working with major international performers and choreographers of the last century. This included Margot Fonteyn, Antony Tudor, the Russians dancers Nureyev and Baryshnikov, Martha Graham, Alvin Ailey, the Germans Kurt Weill and Berthold Brecht, and Pina Bausch.
Mrs. Häger was heavily involved with cross-cultural projects between Sweden and India, playing a vital role in the founding of the Festival of India in Sweden and went on to write about Indian dance, music and crafts. Her cross-cultural contributions were recognised by the King of Sweden, and she was awarded the prestigious Medal of Karl Gustav. Lilavati Häger regularly travelled back to India in the 1950s and 60s to perform, and it was during one such visit that these exceptional works by Jamini Roy (lots 38-41) were acquired.