An ode to Bharatnatyam stalwart KN Dandayudhapani Pillai

- May 28, 2024
| By : Patriot Bureau |

Among his prominent students were legendary actor Vyjayanthimala, Srividya, and former Tamil Nadu chief Minister J Jayalalitha

Dancer Geeta Chandran's disciples

Dancer Geeta Chandran and her disciples will perform Bharatanatyam to honor KN Dandayudhapani Pillai and his younger brother, Guru KN Dakshinamurthi Pillai, on June 1 at 6:30 pm at the Tamil Sangam Auditorium in RK Puram, New Delhi.

This performance will feature compositions from Dandayudhapani Pillai’s book, Adal Isai Amudam, including Jatiswaram, Varnam, and Tillana, representing the complete Bharatanatyam Margam.

Geeta Chandran is the most renowned disciple of the Pillai brothers.

Geeta credits Dakshinamurthi for teaching her essential stagecraft techniques and nattuvangam, and for encouraging her to teach at Natya Kalalayam. He later supported her in founding her own institution, Natya Vriksha, guiding her closely in its early years.

Born on July 14, 1921, Dandayudhapani Pillai began his training in music under his father before turning to Bharatanatyam, learning from his grandfather. He later joined Rukmini Devi Arundale’s Kalakshetra as a teacher, where he taught for many years.

After leaving Kalakshetra, he gained fame as a guru, producing some of the finest dancers of his time and choreographing for films, including the Hollywood production “The River.” He was also known for his glamorous dance dramas, especially traditional kuravanjis.

Among his prominent students were legendary actor Vyjayanthimala, Srividya, and former Tamil Nadu chief Minister J Jayalalitha.

A dedicated exponent of Bharatanatyam, Pillai traveled widely, gaining international acclaim and receiving accolades from various world leaders and heads of state. He was awarded numerous titles, including Natyakalanidi, Natyakalachakravarthy, and Kalaimamani. In 1971, he became the first Bharatanatyam guru to receive the Padmashri title from the President of India.

Dandayudhapani Pillai passed away on October 12, 1974, shortly before the planned silver jubilee celebrations of his Natya Kalalayam institution on November 17, 1974.

His book of compositions, Adal Isai Amudam, remains a timeless treasure for all Bharatanatyam artists.

When: 6:30pm, June 1

Where: Tamil Sangam Auditorium in RK Puram