In step with tradition…ahead of their times

Shanta Dhananjayan

Shanta Dhananjayan a Post Graduate Diploma with distinction in Bharatanaatyam and has also learnt Kathakali and Carnatic music from Kalakshetra and was a leading female dancer from 1955 till 1968.

Shanta Dhananjayan born on 12th August 1943 into a well to do Indian family in Malaysia, was a child prodigy. Though Shanta was born in Malaysia, she traces her ancestry to Kerala from where her family had migrated to Malaysia three generations ago. Her father was an accountant for the BBC in Johore Bahru. By the time she was 3, her parents were convinced that Shanta would be a dancer.

They found in her, an inborn response to dance and joy of movement and decided to send her to India for her education.

After a brief period in Kerala, her parents wanted to send her to Shantiniketan, which was then a great center for the arts. With the encouragement of her uncle Achuta Menon, they sent her to Kalakshetra as an 8 year old in June 1952, a year before Dhananjayan.

When Guru Chandu Panicker was taking the 2 boys Balagopal and Dhananjayan to meet Rukmini Devi, Dhananjayan saw the young Shanta for the first time at the Theosophical Society gardens. She was the first girl Dhananjayan was introduced to when he, a village boy, who knew nothing except Malayalam, arrived at Kalakshetra. Shanta was a serious girl totally devoted to her dance and she secretly made up her mind even at the age of 12 to partner Dhananjayan in life.