Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Generation Next

N. Srikanth

(Reproduced from Sruti 288, September 2008)

A Bharatanatyam dancer, choreographer, dance teacher, Bhagavata Mela artist, and actor — all rolled into one is N. Srikanth.

Born on 15th June 1972, Srikanth hails from Melattur — a village renowned for the Bhagavata Mela natakam. His father M.R. Krishnamurthy has been a Bhagavata Mela artist for the past five decades. As is the tradition in these families, Srikanth was put through his first steps at a very young age, and has been on stage since the age of six, when he made his debut as Bhoomi Devi. He went on to play the roles of Parvati and Prahlada as a young boy. Every summer he joins the troupe which congregates at Melattur and he has now specialized in playing female lead roles in the natakam-s.

He learnt Bharatanatyam from guru Shanmugasundaram Pillai under whose baton he had his arangetram at Kumbakonam when he was 11. Relocating to Chennai to pursue higher studies, Srikanth graduated in Botany and secured a Masters in Public Administration. Meanwhile, he resumed his training in Bharatanatyam under guru Saraswati. He was put under the tutelage of Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam under whose guidance he emerged as a fine exponent of Bharatanrityam, a good teacher, choreographer and a versatile actor.

Rhythmic clarity even in fast passages, linear architecture of lines executed with poise and grace, abhinaya combining crispness and emotive depth with a mix of lokadharmi and natyadharmi, imaginative choreography, a good sense of timing, dancing marked by pauses and moments of silence, and an eye for aesthetics, are hallmarks of Srikanth’s dance. His training in music and love for literature add depth to his artistry. Well versed in Tamil and English, he is a good emcee. He also knows Telugu and Malayalam.

A regular solo performer in Chennai sabha-s, Srikanth has performed at numerous venues in India and in countries like Thailand, France, Indonesia, Canada, the U.S.A., U.A.E, Reunion Islands, and Mauritius. He has also performed in the dance productions of leading dancers like Padma Subrahmanyam, Chitra Visweswaran, Lakshmi Viswanathan, Krishnaveni Lakshmanan, Rhadha, Malavika Sarukkai, Anita Ratnam, and stars like Shobana and Vineeth.

Srikanth is a graded artist of Doordarshan and an empanelled artist of ICCR. He branched out on his own to teach dance in 1998. He is now actively involved in running his mother-in-law Kalamandalam Saraswathy’s dance school Nrityalaya at Kozhikode in Kerala. His disciples include his wife Aswathy. Together they jell well as a dancing duo.

Every year Srikanth is invited to conduct workshops and summer residency courses abroad. He has choreographed many solo dances and group presentations. Some of them are in collaboration with Upasana in the Reunion Islands. In Washington, U.S.A., he helped present Sneha Yagam on environmental issues and this year he choreographed a dance production titled In the Beginning, depicting the six days of creation based on The Old Testament.

Srikanth has danced and acted in a few documentary and feature films. Notable among them are Srinivasa Ramanuja for BBC, Charukesi for ZDF channel, West Germany, Shishu Sadhana a DVD produced by Kala Bharathi in Montreal, Sculptures that come alive for an International Film Festival, Ragam Sangeetam and Bharatam for Raj TV, the title song in K. Balachandar’s teleserial Tenmozhiyal, and in G.V. Iyer’s film Swami Vivekananda.

This young dancer has quite a few feathers in his cap. He is the recipient of the Yuva Kala Bharati title (1997), Tamil Nadu Eyal Isai Nataka Manram award (1998), Natyarangam’s Talent Promotion Award (2000), Award of Excellence (2001), Lakshmi Viswanathan Endowment for Abhinaya, and Pandanallur Shanmuga Sundaram Pillai Memorial Award (2005) and Nartana Kishora Sundaram (2006) among others. He has also received the Junior Fellowship from the Dept. of Culture, Govt. of India.

Endowed with good looks, an attractive stage presence, and commendable skill in nritta and abhinaya, Srikanth has already made a mark in the dance field. If he perseveres with commitment he can dance his way into the halls of fame.

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