Noted classical dance teacher of Bangalore, passed away (just 51) on 27 January 2007. A disciple of the highly respected and popular dance guru, K. P. Kittappa Pillai, and a Rajyotsava awardee in 2006, she was the founder of Ponnaiah Lalitha Kala Academy through which she conducted several cultural programmes.
One such programme from her institute was “Rasa Sanchaya”, held at Ravindra Kalakshetra on 27 January 2007. While accompanying her students’ performance in nattuvanga, she suddenly complained of uneasiness. She left the stage letting her son do the role of nattuvanga. She expired in the auditorium.
She had been working on her dream project of building a dance auditorium (costing about Rs. 1-crore) “Parampara” at Channammanakere Acchukattu Layout, Banashankari III Stage, Bangalore.
The seniormost maddalegara of Yakshagana, Durugappa Gudigar (aged 65), passed away in Manipal on 29 May 2007. He was suffering from throat cancer.
Durgappa Gudigar, famous for his ability to play nine maddales simultaneously, was known for his special finger beats, creative playing, quick follow work and dedication to work. He served in the Idagunji, Kota, Sirsi and Perdur troupes for the last four decades.
He was residing at ‘Yaksha Kutira’, Chowtani, Bhatkal (Uttara Kanara district) and is survived by his wife and two daughters. The Karnataka Folk Academy Award, Karnataka Sri from the Kannada Sahitya Parishath, and the Muscat Stage Award were some of the awards conferred on him.
Born in 1929, dancer/choreographer Chandralekha passed away on 30 December 2006 in Chennai. She had been ailing with cancer.
She learnt Bharatanatyam from Guru Kancheevaram Ellappa Pillai, and later on went on to revolutionize Indian dance with her interpretation of the kinetics of male and female body language. Her experimental dance forms helped earn her international popularity.
An exponent of the classical Indian dance form of Bharatanatyam, Chandralekha enjoyed a successful career that included receiving a Sangeet Natak Academy Fellowship and India’s annual Kalidas Samman award. Labelled as a non-conformist, maverick and rebel, she worked with European dancers like Susanne Linke and Pina Bausch and won international acclaim with her Chandralekha Dance Group. She was also a poet, writer and artist.
KALAMANDALAM GOVINDAN KUTTY
Kathakali guru Kalamandalam Govindan Kutty (aged 79), who was suffering from lung cancer, breathed his last on 5 January 2007 in Kolkata. Born in Palghat district of Kerala on 13 November 1927, Kutty came to Kolkata in 1955 and popularized Kathakali in this region. Kalamandalam Calcutta was founded in 1968 by Thankamani and Govindan Kutty as to impart training in South Indian classical dances to students of Kolkata and beyond.
Guru Govindan Kutty completing 50 years in Kolkata was commemorated in July 2005 with a photo exhibition on his life and works followed by a felicitation by the Govt. of West Bengal. Recipient of the Uday Shankar Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005, he was the sole promoter and guru of Kathakali in Kolkata for many years. His forte was in creating fusion between Rabindra Nritya and Kathakali. Kutty has also written various books on Kathakali in English as well as in Bengali
Kuchipudi dancer/guru Korada Narasimha Rao (aged 74) passed away in Hyderabad on 4 January 2007. Awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi award in 2006, Korada gained fame as the guru and dance partner in Kuchipudi of Indrani Rahman in the late 1950s. He travelled and performed across India, Europe, North America, the Caribbean and Cuba in 1960 with Indrani and received widespread acclaim for his dramatic and theatrical performances. At the International Culture Festival held in Paris in 1960 by Theatre-Des-Nations under the sponsorship of the UNESCO, he was adjudged as the Best Male Dancer of 1960. He was the first Indian to receive that award.
He took up the cause of backwardness of Girijans in the cultural field and gave training for Girijans in Kuchipudi from 1975 under the sponsorship of the Government of Andhra Pradesh. He lived and taught at Eluru in Andhra Pradesh.
P. V. SUBRAMANIAM
Born on 27 March 1917, veteran art critic P. V. Subramaniam, better known as Subbudu, passed away on 29 March 2007. A fearless writer known for his frank criticisms of even established artistes, Subbudu, the music and dance critic of The Statesman for 60 years, was also popular for his writings in Tamil journals like Kalki. He lived the early part of his life in Burma, where he took part in theatre activities and provided musical accompaniment to drama companies. He returned to India during World War II. A proficient player of the harmonium and keyboard, he was also a composer and accompanied well-known musicians and dancers, including Yamini Krishnamurti.
What words in which language can suitably and completely express the feeling of grief and sense of loss of each and every dancer touched by the sudden demise of Guru Narmada? The senior Bharatanatyam guru breathed her last (due to heart failure) on 30 March 2007, just 65 years old (22.09.1942-30.03.2007).
Lakshmi Gopalswamy, Manju Bhargavi, Soundarya, Praveen, Dr. Savitri, Nirupama Rajendra, Sathyanarayan Raji, Lalitha, Malathi Iyengar, Subhashini Vasanth, Dr. Sreedhara, Anupama, Poornima Gururaj, Padmini, Shama Sanjay, Anuradha Vikranth – the list goes on – which Bangalore artist has not been a recipient of her boundless generosity as a great teacher, a good friend, a guide, and, yes, even as a mother figure? An invigorating guru, she leaves behind grieving students encouraged to retain their individuality and creative freedom within the classical framework and inspired to use a particular adavu in many rich, creative ways without sacrificing classicism.
Guru Narmada had her initial training under the late V. S. Kaushik, and training for eighteen years in the Thanjavur style of Bharatanatyam under Guru K. P. Kittappa Pillai of Thanjavur. She had completed over 25 years of teaching, having begun her dance school Shankuntala Nruthyala (in memory of her mother) at Bangalore in 1978. A guru of such calibre will doubtless have been decorated with many awards; the most recent was the prestigious Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for her immense contribution to dance.