In the late 60s,
aristocrats, who could spend to have their own children perform, dominated
the dance scene in Madras. The caliber of the Dhananjayans was such that
they stole the thunder with their novel ideas that they brought to their
presentations via unique repertoire that they developed. The vitality of
dance, the costumes, the attraction of merging of the male and female dance
principles in specially conceived duets, were all part of the charisma
of their performances. It was no wonder that they started to receive invitations
from both within the country and from abroad. They have traveled all over
the world to all major cultural centers to present their art.
To the Dhananjayans,
the realization of their art is both a philosophy and a religion. From
a modest start to establishing their own dance academy, it has been a story
of deep commitment, fervor and dedication. Bharata Kalanjali has emerged
as a full-fledged academy of dance and music with a repertory fashioned
out of its own students and graduates.
and off stage, the Dhananjayans perform with a rare togetherness, born
of years as a dancing couple.
is his perfect partner in life as well as in art. Lack of conflicts in
dance is a result of the mutual understanding, which has grown over the
years. Dhananjayan is past 60 now, but he and Shanta still continue to
enthrall audiences all over the world.
together for 50 years, the Dhananjayans complement each other beautifully
in their personal life and manage to keep routine and boredom at bay by
working on varied themes, involving themselves in different projects, collaborations
and workshops apart from being totally involved in guiding their students’
time between Bharata Kalanjali in Chennai and Bhaaskara in Kerala, keeps
them busy year round. The varied activities, which take up so much time
and energy, keep their spirits vitalized and their outlook fresh.
has served as the honorary founder secretary of ABHAI (Association of Bharatanaatyam
Artistes of India) and completed 2 terms as its president. He has authored
a book on Bharatanaatyam apart from contributing numerous articles on dance
and social issues. His book 'A Dancer On Dance' strives to create an awareness
of dance and its related problems to contemporary society. He is a guide
and counselor to numerous dance organizations.
The 15th Natya
Kala Conference titled “PURUSH: The male in dance” was convened by Dhananjayan
in December 1995. He has always voiced his concern about the plight of
the male dancer in India. Whenever he is on a public platform, he is known
to speak out on what ails Indian dance and culture today and has a reputation
for being forthright in his views.
“I am a
politics graduate, so I take up many issues with political overtones.
As far back as the mid 1960's, that many years ago, I advocated bringing
about Tamizh as the medium of education in schools but the govt. turned
I wrote to the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, that the first thing
she should do is issue ID cards for Indian citizens. It was not implemented
but I got a letter from the PM's office that the letter was received and
passed on to the concerned dept. I also wrote to demonetize the
100Rs note. I would like to think that in some small way I contributed,
because later, Indira Gandhi took action in nationalizing the banks and
frequently to the papers on public issues. I have even written on the Cauvery
issue. Some get published, some don't. Nothing will get changed overnight.
But my contention is to keep on writing, because, sometime somewhere, awareness
will be created in the minds of at least a few people.”
and by chance, I have become the spokesperson for the dance community on
a variety of issues. Maybe that's why I am labeled as a controversial person,
though no one can specify what is exactly controversial about me.”
do a lot of shows free of charge for charitable causes. However, they are
particular that organisers collect at least a particular / respectable
sum to make the effort worthwhile.
They have 2
sons. The elder son Sanjay lives in the USA while the younger son Satyajit
who’s a good dancer is carving out a niche for himself as a photographer.
The people and the press often describe the Dhananjayans as institutions
by themselves. The success of this unique couple has not deterred their
humility, simplicity and humane-ness, which probably make them greater