Birth centenary of renowned Bharatanatyam guru H.R. Keshavmurthy was celebrated on the 7 September 2019 at Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan, Bengaluru. Keshavmurthy, an SNA and Shanthala awardee was trained under guru Kolar Gundappa in the Mysore style of Bharatanatyam. He started Keshava Nritya Shala in the year 1949. The Nritya Shala has trained hundreds of students, including eminent dancers like Lalitha Srinivasan, Shyam Prakash (his son), and Vasanthalakshmi (his eldest daughter). Vasanthalakshmi was one of the first few dancers from Karnataka to be trained at Kalakshetra, Chennai. His son, Shyam Prakash has taken over the reins of Keshava Nritya Shala.
President of MES Education and art connoisseur, Vimala Rangachar, spoke about how Keshavmurthy was responsible for initiating youngsters into the art form, especially in the Malleshwaram area as there were no Bharatanatyam institutions in those days. She also spoke about his daughter Vasanthalakshmi teaching dance to young kids at the Bal Bhavan, in the Kalakshetra style.
Retired Chief Secretary, Government of Karnataka, Chiranjeevi Singh, expressed his opinion that the Kolar style was exhaustive, while Mysore style was restrictive. Prof Mysore Subramanya, however, differed from Singh’s view and explained that the restrictiveness was confined only to the duration of the performance in the royal court and not in the repertoire. He also said that unlike many dance gurus, Keshavmurthy regularly attended the monthly concerts of the Malleshwaram Sangeeta Sabha, as he was a musician (flautist) and a dancer.
H.N. Suresh, Director, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, showered praises on the centenarian and specifically mentioned the guru’s choreographed dance-dramas based on great Kannada epics.
Keshavmurthy not only initiated all his children into the art form but also those who joined his family. It was a pleasant sight to see his grandchildren Vidya, Manasi, Swathi, Raghunandan, Nandakishor and Lasyapriya, present items choreographed by him. The performance included a rare talamalika jathiswaram in different nadais. The welcome dance which was specially composed for the centenary was choreographed by Malini Ravishankar (Keshavmurthy’s daughter-in-law) and presented by her disciples.
The curtain came down on the centenary celebrations, with a performance by disciples of dancer Lalitha Srinivasan, the prime disciple of guru Keshavmurthy.