He was given the title of Nataraja at 18. At 74 today, he's a living legend. If you missed everything in between, here's an evening to show remorse for it.
On the occasion of the World Dance Day, Kathak Kalakshetra is felicitating Padmasri Dr Nataraja Ramakrishna on his completion of 50 golden years of dancing, at Sri Thyagaraya Gana Sabha, this Wednesday.
The chief guest for the evening is Dr Varaprasada Reddy, Chairman of Shantha Biotech, and the program will be presided over by Sahaja Kavi Mallamala, and inaugurated by Dr A Manjulatha, Vice-Chancellor of Telugu University. The other guests invited for the felicitation are Raj Thakur, Ex-Chairman, Sports Authority of AP; Rudraraju Padmaraju, MLC; Vanaja Rao, Novelist and Founder of Vanaja Rao Marriage Bureau; Mallikarjunappa, Trustee of Srisailam Temple Board; Dr Uma Rama Rao, Dancer and Director of Lasya Priya Dance Institute; Padmasri Dr Shobha Naidu, Kuchipudi Dancer; and Natya Kala Bharathi Sarala Kumari, Dancer. On this occasion, Radha and Mohan from Mumbai will perform a Kuchipudi dance recital.
Born into a noble family of Andhras in Bali in 1933, Ramakrishna left his family and property for the love of art since his father did not approve of it. Spending his childhood in Ramakrishna Math at Madras and at Mahatma Gandhi's ashram, he came in touch with great gurus like Meenakshi Sundaram Pillai, Vedantam Laxminarayana Sastry, Naidupeta Rajamma and Pendyala Satyabhama, under whom he learnt various forms of art.
The turning point in his life was his dance performance before the royal assembly consisting of scholars, poets, art critics and the elite of Nagpur city when he just 18 years of age and was given the title of Nataraja by the king Raja Ganapathi Rao Pandya. Since then he learnt various languages and dance and music forms, and became an erudite scholar in sastras and a linguist in five languages. Patronisers of his art included many, even the great Maratha ruler of that time.
In recognition of his outstanding performances, research and recreations, he was honored with numerous awards and titles, like Bharatakalaprapoorna by the Andhra Pradesh Sangeeta Nataka Academy in 1968, Kalaprapoorna, an honorary Doctorate conferred upon by Andhra University in 1981, Kala Saraswathi by Kala Vedika of Hyderabad in 1982, Best Natyacharya of South India by the Central Sangeeta Nataka Academy in 1984, Best Research Scholar by L V R Trust, Madras, in 1986 for recreating Perini, Aasthana Natyacharya of Srisailam Devasthanam and the Andhra Pradesh State in 1980, the Rajeev Gandhi Foundation Award in 1995, Padmasri by the Government of India, the Kala Sagar Award in 1999, the Visishta Puraskar by Sri Potti Sriramulu Telugu University, Hyderabad, in 2000, and the Bharat Cultural Integration Award by the Spirit of Unity Concert, Chennai, in 2001, to name just a few.
Responsible for reviving long forgotten art forms like Kuchipudi, Perini (the dance tradition of the Kakatiya dynasty during the 10th century), and ancient spiritual dances Agama Nartanams and Navajanardana Parijatam, Ramakrishna is one of those few artistes who has dedicated his life to dance. But for his dedication and devotion, the 2,000-year-old spiritual art of Andhras, Andhra Natyam, would have been a dead art in the pages of history.
For further details, please contact Anji Babu of Kathak Kalakshetra at 98492-59133.