Obituary: Amarnath Ghosh, student in Arts & Sciences, 34

Amarnath Ghosh, a master’s of fine arts candidate in dance in the Performing Arts Department in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, was killed in the Academy/Sherman Park neighborhood of St. Louis on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024. He was 34. A homicide investigation by the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department is ongoing.


An accomplished dancer, vocalist and choreographer, Ghosh was originally from Suri, in the Indian state of West Bengal. He began learning Hindustani vocals at age 6, in nearby Kolkata, and later studied at India’s eminent Kalakshetra College of Fine Arts and Kuchipudi Art Academy, both in Chennai.

“Amarnath was an exquisite dancer,” said Elinor Harrison, a lecturer in dance and a faculty affiliate in philosophy-neuroscience-psychology in Arts & Sciences, who was helping Ghosh to prepare for a performance of his MFA final project. “His fullness of expression was unparalleled. He moved with every ounce of his being. I’ve never seen anything like it. He was magnificent. Everyone who saw him dance was enraptured.”

An exponent of four classical dance styles — Kuchipudi as well as Bharatnatyam, Manipuri and Kathak — Ghosh also received extensive training in the Najrul Geeti, Devotional, Bhajan and Baul vocal traditions. He felt a special kinship with Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), India’s first Nobel laureate, and performed both Rabindra Sangeet, or songs written by Tagore, and Rabindra Nrita, a dance style based on the poet’s dance/drama compositions.

Ghosh performed extensively across India and, more recently, in the United States. His many honors include more than a dozen awards, from the Tinakaran Fine Arts Academy, the Nataraj Dance Academy and the National Classical Dance Academy, among others. Last year, his solo, “Marakata Manimaya,” was selected for the American College Dance Association’s National Festival in Long Beach, Calif.

In St. Louis, Ghosh performed with Asha Prem’s Dances of India and worked with both youth and adults at the Consuming Kinetics Dance Company.

“His generosity of spirit and love for dance inspired so many people in this city,” said Joanna Dee Das, an associate professor of dance, who worked with Ghosh in several seminars and an independent study. “Our discussions would delve deep into social theory, philosophy and spirituality, and eventually connect everything back to dance. He brought together mind, body and spirit.”

“Amarnath was not just a dance artist, but an artist in the whole sense,” said Deepangsu Chatterjee, a close friend and doctoral candidate at the McKelvey School of Engineering. “He was a musician. He was a mathematician. We would have long discussions about the connections between art and science.”


Chatterjee, a fellow Bengali as well as a violinist, met Ghosh through Diwali, the annual performing arts showcase organized by Umang, WashU’s Indian graduate student association. “He was a broad-minded person,” Chatterjee said. “Everybody knew how good he was. Everybody fell in love with him. He was immensely popular.”

McKelvey doctoral candidate Kritika Sharma remembers Ghosh as an integral member of Umang. “He had an encouraging spirit that no one could match,” Sharma said. Whether performing in Diwali, teaching Bharatnatyam workshops, or chatting in Bengali, Hindi, Malyalam, Kannada, Tamil or Telegu, “he radiated energy and spread joy and laughter.” He had a gift for transforming a short conversation into something “you will remember for the rest of your life.”

Ghosh’s MFA final project was a six-part dance film, nearly a year in the making, titled “Seasons: Colors of My Life: A Take on Tagore’s Compositions.” The piece, accompanied by an original poem from Chatterjee, will be screened March 22 and 23 in WashU’s Edison Theatre, 6465 Forsyth Blvd. The evening, which was planned long before Ghosh’s death and was to have been the culmination of his time at WashU, also will feature new works by his MFA classmates Caroline Bertho and Emily Ehling.

Ehling remembers Ghosh’s “generosity of spirit and his gratitude for everything. Not a day went by that he wasn’t thankful to be in class and excited to learn even the smallest things.

“Everything was beautiful for him,” Ehling added. “He used the word beautiful, I think, more than any other word. He said beautiful all the time.”

A visitation for Ghosh will be held from 4-6 p.m. Thursday, March 7, at Schrader Funeral Home, 14960 Manchester Road in Ballwin, Mo. For more information or to leave a remembrance, visit

Memorial fund

In honor of Ghosh, the Performing Arts Department has established a memorial fund to foster international exchange and cross-cultural learning. Gifts will support the Amarnath Ghosh Travel Award in Dance, which will be open to all undergraduate and graduate students studying dance. Awards will be granted to students to defray costs associated with attendance fees and travel to dance workshops, conferences, festivals, study abroad or similar activities, with preference given to international experiences, particularly in India.

If at least $50,000 is raised, the department endow these gifts and continue Amarnath’s legacy in perpetuity. If the fund reaches or surpasses $250,000, the department will establish the Amarnath Ghosh Fellowship in Performing Arts to support a WashU graduate student studying dance. It is a preference that this fellowship be awarded to a student who is a citizen or legal resident of India, but if in any given year there is no such student, the fellowship may be awarded to any graduate student in Performing Arts.

To make a donation, visit After clicking the link, please disregard the top line that says “*I Want To Support.” The WU giving page will auto-populate the Amarnath Ghosh Memorial Fund in the second line under “I prefer to enter my own designation (specify below).” You can enter your gift amount there and continue to fill out the rest of the form, including designating the gift as being in memory of Amarnath.

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