S.Rajam’s (Music Appreciation notes)

Friday, 7 December 2018

Kalanidhi Narayanan

7.12.1928 - 21.2.2016
Birthdays & Anniversaries

Kalanidhi's parents, Sumitra and S.V. Ganapathy, decided that their child of seven years should learn Bharatanatyam. In making this decision, they had the personal encouragement of E. Krishna Iyer, even as Rukmini Devi had it when she, after witnessing a Bharatanatyam performance at the Music Academy by two disciples of Pandanallur Meenakshisundaram Pillai, asked Krishna Iyer whether she was not too old (at 32 years of age) to learn and perform the dance.

Kalanidhi's dance guru-s were Mylapore Gowri Amma for initial training and thereafter Kanchipuram Kannappa Pillai for nritta and Chinniah Naidu for abhinaya. Kannappa Mudaliar or Kannappa Pillai as he was known, was related to Kanchipuram Ellappa Mudaliar. Naidu was a renowned Tamil, Telugu and Sanskrit scholar who had deep knowledge of dance.

Kalanidhi also studied music from Manakkal Sivarajan. Later she learnt pada-s and javali-s from Kamakshi Ammal, daughter of Veena Dhanammal.

She gave several performances on the stage between 1938 and 1943, which is when she covered the time measure between the age of 11 and 16. Virtually all her performances were in support of one cause or another, until she got married and exited the field. By then she had earned an important distinction as a dancer: she was among the dancers presented on the stage of the Music Academy as part of Krishna Iyer's campaign for the renaissance of Bharatanatyam; and, furthermore, she was the only brahmin girl in the brigade recruited and assembled under the banner of the Music Academy to demolish the antipathy towards the dance that had threatened the virtual extinction of the art-form.For the record, she danced on the Academy stage in 1939.

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