Legendary Bharatanatyam dancer C.V. Chandrasekhar passes away

Professor C.V. Chandrasekhar, an alumnus of Kalakshetra, was known for his uncompromising approach to art.

Updated - June 20, 2024 07:18 am IST

Published - June 19, 2024 03:18 pm IST

Bharatanatyam exponent C.V. Chandrasekhar.

Bharatanatyam exponent C.V. Chandrasekhar. | Photo Credit: S. R. RAGHUNATHAN

Academician, dancer, musician, choreographer and mentor — C.V. Chandrasekhar (fondly referred to as CVC or Chandru anna) handled them all in a way uniquely his own. He was an artiste whom the entire dance fraternity looked up to in reverence. When it came to art practice, he brooked no compromise. His was a life rich in artistic values. The 89-year-old dancer passed away this morning.

Born in Shimla on May 22, 1935, C.V. Chandrasekhar was exposed to Carnatic music at an early age. His formal training in music began at Kalakshetra in 1945. Though he was sent there to learn music from T.K. Ramaswamy Iyengar and Budalur Krishnamurthy Sastri, Rukmini Devi wanted him to train in Bharatanatyam as well. Known for his flawless technique and nuanced abhinaya, CVC owed his long journey in the performing arts to the meticulous training imparted by gurus S. Sarada, Vasantha and Sarada Hoffman at Kalakshetra. Even before his arangetram in 1950, he became an integral part of the famed Kalakshetra dance dramas. “The first role that I performed was that of a kattiakaran in ‘Kuttrala Kuravanji’,” he had recalled during an interview with The Hindu.

C.V. Chandrasekhar performing in Mangaluru on November 30, 2013.

C.V. Chandrasekhar performing in Mangaluru on November 30, 2013. | Photo Credit: H.S. Manjunath

After his schooling, college and dance training in Chennai, CVC did his post-graduation in Botany from Banaras Hindu University. He married Jaya, a lawyer and a trained dancer, in 1962. They spent close to two decades teaching dance at BHU. Their daughters Chitra Dasarathy and Manjari Rajendra Kumar are also trained Bharatanatyam dancers. Among CVC’s notable choreographic productions are Kalidasa’s ‘Ritu Samharam’ and ‘Meghadootham’, ‘Aparajitha’, ‘Pancha Maha Bhootham’, ‘Arohanam’, ‘Bhoomija’ and ‘Bhramarageeth’.

In 1980, CVC went on to become the Head of Department of Performing Arts at M.S. University in Baroda, the only university then to offer a curriculum in classical dance. A recipient of several awards including the Padma Bhushan, Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship, Kalidas Samman, Sangeeta Kala Acharya from the Music Academy and Nritya Choodamani from Sri Krishna Gana Sabha, C.V. Chandrasekhar’s success as a soloist paved the way for other male Bharatanatyam enthusiasts to pursue the art form.

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