Kalanidhi Narayanan

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Kalanidhi Narayanan
Kalanidhi Narayanan.jpg
Kalanidhi Ganapathi

(1928-12-07)7 December 1928
Tamil Nadu, British India
Died21 February 2016(2016-02-21) (aged 87)
Chennai, India
Occupation(s)Indian classical dancer, dance teacher
Years active1940-1944; 1973-2016
Current groupMadras Music Academy [1]

Kalanidhi Narayanan (7 December 1928 – 21 February 2016) was an Indian dancer and teacher of Indian classical dance form of Bharatnatyam, who was the early non-devadasi girl to learn the dance form and perform it on stage in the 1930s and 1940s. After a brief career in the 1940s, she returned to dance in 1973 and became a notable teacher of abhinaya.[2][3][4]

She was awarded the Padma Bhushan Award, India's third highest civilian honour in 1985,[5] the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for Bharatnatyam in 1990, given by Sangeet Natak Akademi, India's National Academy for Music, Dance and Drama [6] and Kalidas Samman (1998). She was also conferred Sangeet Natak Akademi Tagore Ratna for Dance in 2011.

Early life and training[edit]

Born Kalanidhi Ganapathi [7] in the Brahmin household of Sumitra and Ganapati, her mother was keen on getting her dance education, and this was supported by her father. Thus starting at the age of seven she trained intensively under various gurus, this included Kamakshi Ammal, daughter of Veena Dhanam, for Padams and Javalis and Manakkal Sivarajan for vocal lessons. Noted guru Kannappa Pillai, from Kanchipuram was her main teacher of nritta (dance), he was also teacher to Balasaraswati, while Chinnayya Naidu and Mylapore Gauri Ammal taught her Abhinaya (Art of expression). Later she was to add a new dimension to abhinaya herself.[2]

She made her stage-debut (Arangetram) at the age of 12 at the Senate House in Chennai, for the Madras Music Academy.[7][8] While still in her teens, she gave two notable recitals, one with Dhanamanikkam and another with Nattuvanar K. Ganesan, son of the Kandappa Pillai.[3]

She died in February 2016.[9]


She had a brief dance career in the 1940s, before she stepped out at the age of sixteen when her mother died and she was married into a conservative family. She returned to dance when in 1973, noted art-patron, Y. G. Doraiswamy, who had seen her performances as a teen, asked to instruct dancer Alarmel Valli in abhinaya, to which she agreed, encouraged by her sons who had by now grown up. This started the second phase of her career after a gap of 30 years at the age of 46. She also started to re-educate herself in dance, luckily her books from her younger days had survived, she started attending dance performances and Arangetram in the city, also enrolled in a course on dance theory on Bharatanatyam by Dr. Padma Subramaniam . Gradually more students started coming to her and in the coming decades she became "the most sought after teacher for abhinaya".[2][3]

On 7 December 2003, various dance teachers and her disciples, celebrated her 75th birthday at Luz Community Hall in Chennai, it was marked by a two-day seminar on abhinaya, where prominent gurus of Bharatanatyam participated. On the occasion, a set of 4 CDs on Padams was also released.[3][8]


Amongst her noted disciples are, Ramya Harishankar (USA), A.Lakshmanaswamy (India), Bragha Bessell (India), Hema Rajagopalan (India), Subashree Narayanan (USA), Minal Prabhu (India), Priya Govind (India),[2] Sharmila Biswas,[10] Meenakshi Chitharanjan (abhinaya), Milana Severskaya (Russia)[11] to name a few.[12] She has taught numerous disciples over the years, many of whom have personalised her philosophies.

Further reading[edit]

  • Kalanidhi Narayanan and Padam revival in the modern Bharata Natyam dance practice, by Priya Srinivasan. University of California, Los Angeles, 1997.
  • Kalanidhi Narayanan's Triveni: selected Telugu songs of Annamayya Kshetrayya Sarangapani. Abhinaya Sudha Trust, 2008.


  1. ^ Andrew L. Yarrow (22 September 1989). "WEEKENDER GUIDE". New York Times.
  2. ^ a b c d "Padmabhushan Kalanidhi Narayanan Talks To Lokvani". Lokvani. 2 February 2003.
  3. ^ a b c d "Guru par excellence". The Hindu. 5 December 2003. Archived from the original on 20 June 2004.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  4. ^ "Exploration of expressions". The Hindu. 25 January 2008. Archived from the original on 29 January 2008.
  5. ^ "Padma Awards Directory (1954-2009)" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs. Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 May 2013.
  6. ^ "SNA: List of Akademi Awardees". Sangeet Natak Akademi Official website. Archived from the original on 17 February 2012.
  7. ^ a b O'Shea, p. 175
  8. ^ a b "Ageless: the face of abhinaya". narthaki. 14 December 2003.
  9. ^ "Bharatanatyam exponent Kalanidhi Narayanan dies aged 87 | Chennai News - Times of India".
  10. ^ "Katha Kavya Abhinaya". Sangeet Natak Akademi. 2011. Archived from the original on 27 September 2013. Retrieved 28 May 2013.
  11. ^ "Домашняя страница Миланы Северской". www.milana-art.ru. Retrieved 30 June 2018.
  12. ^ "Life's dancing lessons". The Hindu. 13 February 2014. Retrieved 29 January 2016.

External links[edit]