A TRIBUTE TO MY DANCE INSTITUTE AND GURUS
Sri Rajarajeswari Bharatha Natya Kala Mandir is one of the premiere dance institutions in Mumbai imparting training in Classical Bharathanatyam. It was the year 1945 When the alien rule was in its dying embers,our country at the threshold of Independence and Bombay, the dynamic centre of Indian resurgence, was pulsating with pride everything that was nationalistic, be it social, political, economic or cultural. In such atmosphere was founded the Kala Mandir in Bombay by Guru Sri A. T Govindraj Pillai, assisted and enthused by his wife Smt. Karunambal.
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PIONEERS OF THE INSTITUTE
SRI GOVINDRAJ PILLAI Born on 22nd June 1914, in a family devoted to music and dance for generations, Guru Ayyampettai Thyagaraj Govindraj Pillai had first started his music lessons from Veerabhadra Pillai. Later he has been thoroughly trained in the intricacies of Carnatic music by the veterans Vidwan Markhanda Pillai and Vidwan Venugopal. By sheer dint of hard work and intense devotion to the art, Guru Govindraj Pillai has reached the pinnacle of fame which very few could accomplish. It was just after he has married the only daughter of Bharatha Vidwan Kuppiah Pillai, that the genius of Guru Govindraj Pillai came to be recognized in the filed of dancing. Smt. Karunambal has been a great source of inspiration and of immense help to Guru Govindraj Pillai in imparting tuition to the students. He has amassed huge knowledge in Bharatha Natyam technique from the vast treasures of Vidwan Kuppiah Pillai’s erudite scholarship. SMT. KARUNAMBAL Smt. Karunambal, the present Principal of Sri Rajarajeswari Bharatha Natya Kala Mandir. She is the fourth generation of dance gurus tracing her lineage which started from Venkatakrishna Nattuvanar, her grand father Panchapakesa Nattuvanar was author of abhinaya Navaneetham. The Gurus were the asthana vidwans of the Samasthanams of Baroda, Ramanathapuram and Thanjavur. Smt. Karunambal Is known for her strict disciplined teaching , is most loved and admired by hundreds of her disciples. It is only after her marriage to Kalaimamani Guru A.T.Govindraj Pillai, founder of the Kala Mandir, and with the blessings of her father Bharatha Vidwan Guru T.P. Kuppiah Pillai , she taught dance along with her husband from the day the school was founded in 1945. She taught deligently and trained many brilliant students, Damayanti Joshi, Kamini Kaushal, Nalini Jayawant , Guru Mani of Kalasadan, Praveena Vashi, Sudha Chandrasekher, Lakshmi Iyer, Jayam and Asha Amarnath are well known among hundreds of her disciples. She was the leader of the Cultural troupe of the Kala Mandir that performed in 15 cities in America and Canada in 1995, as part of the Golden Jubilee celebrations of the Kala Mandir.
GURU K. KALYANASUNDARAM Presently, as a Director of the Sri RajaRajeswari Bharatha Natya Kala Mandir, Guru K Kalyanasundaram is the torch – bearer of the Tanjore tradition of Bharatha Natyam. With his innovative and imaginative choroegraphy, he has distinguished himself in unique presentations at the Manifestations Of Shiva ( World Shiva Meet, Philadelphia, March 1981 ), the Sydney Arts Festival and the Singapore Arts Festival. Full length productions of the compositions of Saint poets Purandaradasa, Adi Shankara and Thyagaraja; dance dramas Vasantavalli, Thyagabrahmanjali, Sri andal, Charanapaduka, Skanda Leela, Pancha Kanya, Sri Krishna Leela, have been very well received by the critics and connoisseurs. Guru Kalyanasundaram’s students have featured at prestigious dance conferences and festival. In November 1986, along with other eminent gurus of other classical dance styles, a widely acclaimed presentation of ” National Integration Through Dance “. In 1988, he was awarded the Sharandev Fellowship by the Sur Singar Samsad for his outstanding contribution to the art of Bharatha Natyam and the title of Natya Kalanidhi.Exclusive compositions of Mahakavi Bharathi( presented at Bharathi’s Centenary Celebrations at his birthplace Ettayapuram in 1981)and Saint Purandaradasa( presented on his 500th birth anniversary at New Delhi in 1984) are notable among the presentations of other composers. With his troupe, he has toured extensively, presenting recitals in Australia, Europe, USA, Canada, Nepal, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia. In 1989, he led a 10 – member dance troupe to participate in the First International Arts of China and presented a programme at Singapore to celebrate the centenary of Jawaharlal Nehru.