C.V. Chandrashekar is being honoured on Sunday.
Life has come a full circle for the veteran dancer C.V. Chandrashekar. The little boy, who developed wings and learnt to fly in the sylvan surroundings of Kalakshetra, is back as a team member playing a role in decision making to guide and pave the path for young talents to blossom.
As a performing artist and teacher working in Benares University and M.S. University in Baroda, he was away from the public eye for a long time. After his return to Chennai, he has been showered with accolades and high recognition which he richly deserves.
The most coveted awards such as the Kalidas Samman and Nritya Choodamani, Natya Kala Acharya, Nadopasana and above all Padma Bhushan have been bestowed on him.
The latest in this list is the Guru-Sishya Parmparya Award for his contribution in passing on the rich legacy as a guru.
Standing behind with great happiness and revelling in his success is his life partner Jaya, who as his dancing partner and a teacher in her own right, moved away from the spotlight, to be his pillar of strength. We look back on his journey, of the rich legacy he inherited, imbibed, and is transmitting to the next generation.
Music lessons as a five-year old was the starting point of his artistic journey but soon dance entered his life and he started dancing to songs dressed as a girl. He recalls how he would proudly perform in family functions the song ‘Kandadundo Kannan Pol’ which was taught to him by Radha, daughter of M.S. Subbulakshmi. He was sent to the Besant Theosophical School at the age of ten, where the hours after school were devoted to music lessons at Kalakshetra. Slowly his dedication was noticed by Rukmini Devi who enrolled him in dance and in a year’s time also put him on stage as a Kattiyakkaran. He continued his training in music and dance side by side with his academic pursuit at Vivekananda College.
“It was not only the fundamentals of music and dance that I learnt but a complete value system. The simplicity in their way of life, the attention they gave to little details both in art and daily activities and their humility taught me the importance of projecting the aesthetics of the art more than the self-projection of the artist. It was only much later in life that I realised that all the teachers who taught me were all legends, who with all graciousness allowed us to partake of their knowledge wholeheartedly,” says CVC.
He thinks of the devotion dedication and commitment of teachers such as Periya Sarada and Sharada, who would spend long hours in the evenings to teach him just because Rukmini athai asked them to do so. It was institutionalised gurukulam and not traditional gurukulam.
Importance of creativity
“The place also opened my eyes to the importance of creativity and individuality that an artist needs to develop,” he says. “On the one hand I had a teacher like Mudicondan Venkatramaiyar who believed in rigorous practice of traditional Patantharam, singing compositions in a systematic manner and on the other it was M.D. Ramanathan who was so creative that a sangati he sang one day will be so different from the sangati he sang the next day.”
Kalakshetra thus was an Aalamaram - banyan tree of great values learnt from masters who were like its many roots.
The rich experience he gained became more meaningful when he moved to Benares for his masters in science. To fund his education, CVC started teaching in three schools to children of traders who he knew would never become performers. He shared with them his knowledge and their devotion to him and the art he imparted becomes meaningful when many of them still keep in touch. He taught at Benaras and Baroda too for many years and continues to teach young dancers from varied dance schools imparting his knowledge as a continuation of a Paramparyam, the Guru-Sishya Paramparyam.
Prof. C.V. Chandrashekar will be conferred the M.N. Subramanian Memorial Award at the Music Academy, on January 13, 6 p.m., by N. Murali, president of the Academy.