Monday, 9 May 2016

The Sunil Kothari Column - A memorable encounter with Yamini Krishnamurti

During the two day World Dance Day Festival organized by Geeta and Rajiv Chandran under the aegis of heir institution Natya Vriksha, one of the major highlights was Geeta Chandran in a dialogue with the celebrated dancer Yamini Krishnamurti. It was one of the finest no- holds barred, frank, brutally honest and historic conversations. Yamini is a private person, so to draw her out and make her speak was indeed a tough job. But Yamini was in a very happy frame of mind and peppered her answers with humour also.

A real diva, she has been an icon and after Balasaraswati and her contemporaries, other dancers like legendary Mrinalini Sarabhai, Shanta Rao, Kamala, from the next generation Yamini stands tall. No other dancer has captivated audiences all over India and abroad for her recitals of Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi, as she did. She has also influenced several young dancers in post-independence era. In fact, majority of dancers have said publicly that they were inspired to study Bharatanatyam after having seen Yamini. I saw Yamini for the first time during the All India Dance Seminar convened by Sangeet Natak Akademi in April 1958 at Vigyan Bhavan.  She had performed jatiswaram for Elappa Pillai in the morning session. And she stood out for her brilliant nritta and vivacious performance. She had already made a name and was creating waves. Like many present there, I as a young, up and coming scholar and a green horn, was mesmerized. 

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