About Us Contact Us Help


Archives

Contribute

 

Padmabhushan Kalanidhi Narayanan Talks To Lokvani

Ranjani Saigal
09/02/2003

While the art of Bharatanatyam dates back to over 2000 years, the tradition in its current form was reestablished only around the time of the freedom movement. Padmabhushan Kalanidhi Narayanan was the first non-devadasi girl to learn this art form and perform it on stage. She learnt this art form from Kannappa Pillai, Chinnayya Naidu and Mylapore Gauri Ammal in 1935. Drawing from the training she received from her Gurus and her own immense talent, Smt. Narayanan has given a new dimension to the art of Abhinaya (mime or expression).

Her career path was unusual. While she trained intensively from the age of seven to sixteen, she completely gave up her connections with the world of Bharatanatyam for thirty years. At the age of forty-six she re-entered the field and has gained awards and recognitions including the coveted Padmabhushan from the Government of India. Now seventy-five, she continues to work tirelessly to bring this art to interested students around the world. She gave a riveting presentation on Abhinaya in Stoneham, MA. Her multiple interpretation of “Krishna Nee Begane” using Vatsalya, Rathi and Bhakthi was a treat to the viewer. In an interview with Lokvani, she speaks of her unusual career path and gives us some insights into the art of Abhinaya.

Lokvani:It is exciting to meet a pioneer like you who in 1935 against all social norms learnt this art. You must have been quite a rebel with a passion for the art. Could you describe your experience with dance as a young girl?

Kalanidhi: I am sorry to say that I learnt dance only to be obedient to my mother. I was no rebel nor did I have a particular interest. My mother Sumitra was very motivated to teach me dance. I do not know how she developed this interest. My father fully supported the endeavor. My mother also introduced dance to other households in our neighborhood. Unfortunately my recollection of that time period is not very clear. I do remember giving a lot of programs in support of various charitable causes. I gave up dance when my teachers died. Later my mother also died. I was married into a traditional family. I never craved for dance. I must say I was not a very motivated student.

Lokvani: I am really surprised. How did you re-enter the field and rise to such heights?

Kalanidhi: All thanks to Shri. Y.G.Doraiswamy. When I was forty-six years old, he called me out of the blue. He is a great connoisseur of the arts. He had seen me perform in my younger days. He felt that Abhinaya was not getting the recognition it deserved. He was a friend of Alarmel Valli. He felt that while she was very good at Nritta, she needed training in Abhinaya. Teachers at that time used to say that training for Abhinaya is not possible and that it is a natural talent. He asked if would be her Guru. The offer came as a surprise and shock to me. I told him that I had not danced in years. Yet he felt confident that I would help. My sons who were grown up encouraged me to persue this. That is how I re-entered the field. The re-entry was not easy. Somehow my books from my younger days had survived. Once I started teaching it must have been a suceess for more students began to want to learn from me.

Lokvani: Was the climb to success an easy one for you?

Kalanidhi: Not at all. I had to do a lot of hard work.. Once I decided to teach, I wanted to sincerely do my best. I wanted to learn more so that I could teach confidently. I used to go to every recital in town, be it an Arangetram or a professional performance.I enrolled in a course on Bharatanatyam offered by Dr. Padma Subramanium. I proceeded to collect material from different sources. I decided to move to the center of Chennai so that students would not find the commute to my home difficult.

Lokvani: Why did you decide to enhance your training? How is the training today different from your own training?

Kalanidhi: In my time, the teachers really did not teach theory. I am not sure if it was because they did not want to share their knowledge or if it was because of a lack of knowledge. I did not even know the names of hastas. While I am sure the influence of my teachers is in me, I really cannot define how I have this Abhinaya ability. It was not taught to me.

Lokvani: Could you tell us a little about your technique?

Kalanidhi: For any piece, first get a thorough understanding of the words. Understand the Nayika and guage the mood of the piece. Do not look at your hands but rather keep your focus on the character that you are interacting with and express yourself through actions and reactions. This is slightly different from the "Yatho Hastas Thatho Drishti" approach which is more traditional. Use a judicious mixture of Natayadharmi (stylized expression) and Lokadharmi (common expression) to make sure that your audience is feeling like they are part of the scene that is presented by the song.

Lokvani: What is the difference between Kirtanam, Padam and Javali?

Kalanidhi: Keertanam is always based on Bhakti. It is single-minded devotion to the Lord. Padams and Javalis deal with the love between a man and a woman. Padams are usually in heavy Ragams like Bhairavi and the themes are also deep. Javalis are lighter versions of Padams.

Lokvani: At seventy-five you seemed to have achieved everything. What does the future hold for you?

Kalanidhi: I do not know about the future. I want to continue to teach this art to others so that it does not die. Balasaraswathi was a great Abhinaya exponent but her art died with her. I want to do everything to keep this alive and this is why even at this age I am traveling around the world teaching. My awards do not mean much to me. But the success of my students in potraying good Abhinaya means a lot to me.

Lokvani: If students in New England want to learn your art should they come and see you in Chennai?

Kalanidhi: Not necessary. I have many students here in the US and Canada who are very capable of teaching. Uma Vasudevan in Montreal, Ramya Harishankar in California, Hema Rajagopalan in Chicago are all capable of teaching Abhinaya. In India also many of my students like Priya Govind and others are experts who can teach. These students have learnt from me for many years and have imbibed my technique.

Lokvani: Thanks so much for your time.

Kalanidhi: You are welcome.



Bookmark and Share | Share your Comments

Comments :
Post a new message
1.enconowercl July 28, 2013 
2.enconowerrt July 28, 2013 
3.enconowervb July 28, 2013 
4.enconowerwu July 27, 2013 
5.KedleksNodsda July 12, 2013 
6.dfWJdnpxKh May 26, 2013Connie 
7.kVjchiIiGOnxilED May 25, 2013Barbi 
8.kVjchiIiGOnxilED May 25, 2013Barbi 
9.YnljbBLqxEvFft May 14, 2013Bobcat 
10.pfbiHhnXwwfwXSdQ May 8, 2013Elly 
11.OKtzwCKjwDll May 7, 2013Marden 
12.toVceDETPGjaNns May 2, 2013Rope 
13.OgiNMuGXWU May 1, 2013Nettie 
14.zSWgzSUHnf April 23, 2013Lucy 
15.FGSnlPatqSCpMwO April 17, 2013Chartric 
16.CXPTprHGFhsGprcl April 15, 2013Vina 
17.geYfGUhlKlYcip April 11, 2013Jailene 
18.yEPLmIQwpNOb April 4, 2013Morey 
19.UvmjtSKoZgIvulIiW April 3, 2013Keylon 
20.cYmNXACtRsRTMh March 23, 2013Cade 
21.wQPCgqlZeTypRRzRXCq March 13, 2013Shorty 
22.okHhafqPYJGtjVRVykJ March 9, 2013Yelhsa 
23.TSCzxeWvsYN March 4, 2013Jayce 
24.TXEqWDLNmtsD February 15, 2013Karsen 
25.pJbOMrcJbzfmkzDuL February 2, 2013Tangie 
26.AJXHivOeaojCVzLxdpO February 2, 2013Zavrina 
27.RUONQjJoWdOS February 2, 2013Loryn 
28.PFNSKaumehKqVumnUlx February 2, 2013Charleigh 
29.COBRQQTCwpt January 26, 2013Maggie 
30.pPtVBabCeZnvFy January 26, 2013Cassandra 
31.SIcmclzQRIUcZsNgGL January 17, 2013Tessica 
32.FxcuygQIReTTMRr January 17, 2013Seston 
33.ZLBFEaCeidT January 1, 2013Janesa 
34.AretKdjNoSXK December 26, 2012Tish 
35.ubsMOIAjdIVEIhgsrK December 20, 2012Digger 
36.WyeTKTWdUhAEMwPAGA December 15, 2012Essie 
37.hzpDVMPxjeUlcteM December 14, 2012Jeneva 
38.yOdqXpGFNVlGTr December 13, 2012Koyie 
39.ohiuwyyILBQloRJ December 12, 2012Lanette 
40.mFqHkrGqKkSncYyTdz December 8, 2012Banjo 
41.cZNWXYZdzFuqa December 6, 2012Willie 
42.FiegwSxBdvtCjAaZ December 2, 2012Gracelynn 
43.eMTmimgIkIXsfoy November 30, 2012Betsy 
44.OWPYLXeiOrmYS November 25, 2012Satchell 
45.hFBhuKefGisgiVCmllV November 17, 2012Jesslyn 
46.CNBjWBSCrCYevCfXGTz November 13, 2012Makendra 
47.nWQEMtcbAaqFXnbQXga October 16, 2012Matee 
48.MckRcNbkjx October 12, 2012Blue 
49.MxEjArGxnu October 3, 2012Bella 
50.fOrHOFVOdzYq September 27, 2012Shermaine 
51.xoOrhsXvPGt September 24, 2012Steffi 
52.SUhCILRqKpLGFZwNa September 23, 2012Carrieann 
53.IYMfUyHPmJcnk September 20, 2012Gildas 
54.eyhnjwQGgZIlIxE August 18, 2012Rileigh 
55.tYLMQETqjKCNgvQy August 14, 2012Kaydence 
56.nJdFLTrsGugrI August 12, 2012Bear 
57.LPHPegGOmnyWMJvxDvo August 10, 2012Bonner 
58.SAtwyrZgZgTbbcwkoZD August 1, 2012Lottie 
59.XDkFJQPjgQ July 30, 2012xaiqaivs 
60.gOuQOOQQNuHvZRwp July 29, 2012cczlxeb 
61.gtxceMKGcKnHHMtooo July 28, 2012Zeliha 
62.RIOfKoxZdIHGNo May 20, 2012Rae 
63.TigEnhdCPuNZAq May 18, 2012Mateus 

In this Issue
Shout Outs To Family And Friends


Beat out the blues by celebrating the holiday season with us. Join us in rejoicing the birth of some some very special individuals.
[more]

Shout Outs To Family And Friends
South Asian Group Explores The Great Outdoors


If you love the great outdoors in almost any form, here is a tip for all those looking for adventure.
[more]

South Asian Group Explores The Great Outdoors
Trivia


Answer the Trivia questions and win prizes.
[more]

Trivia
Padmabhushan Kalanidhi Narayanan Talks To Lokvani


Starting a bharatanatyam dance career at the age of forty-six, she has gained an enviable spot in the dance world as the "Queen of Abhinaya". She talked to Lokvani about her unusual dance career.
[more]

Padmabhushan Kalanidhi Narayanan Talks To Lokvani

You may also access this article through our web-site http://www.lokvani.com/


Sulochana Govardhan(Sis-in-law, of Balasaraswathi) , Amudha P, Kalanidhi and Amrita


Kalanidhi with local dance teachers and students at the home of Meena Subramanyam







Home | About Us | Contact Us | Copyrights Help