An artiste like no other

NICE NOSTALGIA Yamini Krishnamurthy  

Yamini Krishnamurthy was recently awarded the Amaravati Lifetime Achievement Award by Dr. A. Chakrapani on the last day of the two-day festival of Amaravati Nrityotsav 2016. This doyen of three dance forms, Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi and Odissi, practically breathes and lives dance. Born on the full-moon night on January 20, 1940 at Madanapally in Chittoor, her grandfather lovingly named her Yamini Poornatilaka , which meant a full mark on the forehead of the night. In an interaction, she talked about her dance, life and how she learnt the three forms.


When did you start learning dance?

I must have been three and a half when I started learning. Growing up in Chidambaram, I used to visit the temple morning and evening. The Karanas sculpted on the walls of the temples made a deep impact on my mind. I was always in wonderment of various postures of Nataraja. To me movement is dance and dance is movement. I was crazy about dance.

Realising my intense desire to be a dancer, my father sacrificed his career and supported my dream. My parents spent a fortune on my dance. My father and uncle sold three properties to bring gurus to Madras and teach me.

Bharatanatyam was the first form I learnt. I learnt the grammar of Bharatanatyam under Rukmini Devi Arundale. But my father thought that to be a real performer, I had to be under a Nattuvanar, because it was the Nattuvanar who is born into the traditional dance families and had real command over Bharatanatyam. So I learnt Bharatanatyam from Elappa Pillai. I have learnt Navasandhi, the style of dance the devadasis did in front of the god, from Kittappa Pillai

How did you learn Kuchipudi?

During my days people had little or no knowledge about Kuchipudi. Some even regarded Kuchipudi as a folk form of dance. But my father knew better. He had once seen Vedantam Lakshmi Narayana Sastry’s performance and told me that Kuchipudi is a unique and beautiful dance form and that I should learn it. One day this great master of Kuchipudi dance landed in our house along with his disciples. He said, ‘I hear you are making a name for yourself for being a good dancer. Why don’t you learn Kuchipudi.’ He taught me Bhama Kalapam. I also learnt from Pasumarthi Venu Gopal Sharma and later from Chinta Krishnamurthy and Vedantam Satyanarayana Sharma.

What about Odissi?

I learnt Odissi from Pankaj Charan Das and Kelucharan Mohapatra. I used to practise all three styles together all through the day. It was a difficult task as most of the features of these three forms are different from each other. I had a full time job that did not leave me any time for any other pursuit.

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2021 2:28:04 AM |

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