Miss Lilanti, from Punjab, was scheduled to dance in Shanghai's Lyceum in February 1941. But why does she have such Russian eyes? There are no records of her performances anywhere in her "native" India.
Local lovers of the native dance will have a rare opportunity to witness a talented exponent of the Indian art when Miss Lilanti, a noted dancer from the Punjab, appears on the Lyceum stage on March 19 and 21. Before embarking on her first foreign tour, Miss Lilanti had a long and distinguished career in her own land. She was dancing at the age of 13, in 1928, appearing on the same programme as several famous artists, among whom was Shamboo, one of India's foremost dancers and direct descendant of the Kalka Binda Din school of Kattrack dancing. For some years Miss Lilanti lived in Lahore, where she became known for her graceful performances in the cause of charity. Her dancing, fully understood by her own people, was very much appreciated.
In 1936 Miss Lilanti went to Bombay, where she formed her own professional company. She was instantly a success and enjoyed many years of popularity in that city. On her present tour Miss Lilanti has made professional appearances at Colombo and Singapore and in the Dutch East Indies, where she also studied the native dance. She expects to include in her Shanghai performance a number taught her by a dancer from the Sultan's Palace in Soerakartu, Java.
Following her local performance she intends to visit the USA and therefore attaches importance to her local visit as a possible barometer of her success in America.
Shanghai Sunday Times, Feb 1941.
Posing as nationals of other countries was a common tactic for the Russians in Shanghai – and not only in the entertainment industry. Some time ago, I posted an excerpt from the memoir of the dancer Larissa Andersen. I left out the part in which Larissa and her dance partner Vera audition for a cabaret show, pretending to be visiting stars from the Philippines. It all goes well until they have to tell the Filipino band on stage which tunes to play. The girls pretend to be super-arrogant and angry at them, to justify not replying in Tagalog. Later, Vera goes to India on a tour. I wonder if she posed as a renowned performer of the "native Chinese dance"? Upon her return from India, Vera flaunted her newly acquired art of the "exotic dance" on Shanghai stages.