step with tradition...ahead of their times
"Perfection is an unreachable
star. One keeps on traveling in pursuit of knowledge and perfection, and
a real student of creative art is never satisfied."
Shanta and V.P. Dhananjayan have carved themselves a unique place in the
field of Bharatanaatyam. A made for each other couple on stage and off
stage, they have been shining stars in the national and international
scene of Bharatanaatyam for nearly six decades. While adhering to the
strict classicism of the Kalakshetra style of Bharatanaatyam, they have
explored new themes and movements without compromising on tradition.
In 1968, they founded Bharatakalaanjali in Chennai. Since then, the
countless talented artistes who have emerged from this institution is
legion and they in turn continue to impart what they have learnt to
their students in different parts of the world. With their
uncompromising pursuit of perfection, high regard for Bhaarateeya
Samskriti values and commitment to their art, the Dhananjayans
have been role models for the younger generation. Their devotion to
their art, the high standard of teaching and meticulous moulding of the
next generation of Bharatanaatyam artists is the envy of
Apart from solos, the Dhananjayans have produced and choreographed many
stellar group presentations. In their duet performances, the couple
complements each other beautifully. In recognition of their versatility
and talent, the Dhananjayans have been honored with numerous awards in
their eventful career - Kalaimamani from Government of Tamizhnaadu, The
Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, the Fellowship of the Kerala Sangeeta
Nataka Academy and the Nrithya Choodamani of Sri Krishna Gana Sabha are a
few of the earlier ones. Among the recent honours, Madras Music
Academy's Sangeeta Kala Acharya, Swathi Puraskar from the Malayalee Club
and the World Peace Award from Chinmoy Foundation of USA. GD Birla
International recognition for outstanding contribution to Bhaarateeya (
Indian) Art & culture awarded by Vice President of Bhaarat (June
2010) carried a purse of Rs. 5 lakhs. Vel's University (Chennai) awarded
Dhananjayan with an honorary Doctorate for his outstanding contribution
to the preservation, protection and popularization of Bharatanaatyam
around the globe. The Doctorate was given by the former President of
Bhaarat, Dr. Abdul Kalam (2011). The crowning glory is of course the
Padma Bhushan (2009).
& SMT. SHANTA DHANANJAYAN - THE DOYENS OF BHARATANAATYAM
- the inseparable
Bharatanaatyam couple of India
son of A.Rama Poduval and Madhavi Amma was born in Payyanur (Kerala) in
the year 1939. A child poet in Malayalam, he was brought to Smt. Rukmini
Devi's Kalakshetra, Chennai at the age of 13 in the year 1953 by the famed
Guru T.K. Chandu Panikkar. He received diploma and post graduate diploma
in Kathakali and Bharatanaatyam with distinction and served the alma mater
(Kalakshetra) as one of the most prominent performing artists and teacher
till 1968. Dhananjayan was the leading dancer in the Kalakshetra dance
drama productions and became synonymous with the character Sri Rama in
the Ramayana series of Kalakshetra.
in the year 1968 along with his wife Shanta Dhananjayan also an alumni
of Kalakshetra. Bharatakalanjali under the able stewardship of Dhananjayan
and Shanta has become one of the well known institutions in Tamizhnaadu
for Bharatanaatyam. They created several prestigious and internationally
acclaimed dance productions. "The Cultural panorama of Tamizhnaadu"
directed and produced for the Government of Tamizhnaadu won him special
recognition from the Chief Minister Thiru. M.G. Ramachandran. They also
received several other State and public recognitions including Kalaimamani,
Central Sangit Natak Academi, Kerala State Sangeeta Nataka Academy's Fellowship,
Nrityachoodamani (Sri Krishna Gana Sabha) and several prestigious National
and International awards, titles and recognitions. MA.Chidambaram Chettiyar
(MAC Charities) award of Rs.50,000/-, silver casket and citation (2002),
the "Swati Ratna" puraskaar for Madras Malayalee club, for their contribution
to the propagation of Maharaja Swathi Tirunal's compositions through Bharatanaatyam
Dhananjayans have trained several talented poor children, who are successfully
purusing their carrier in Bharatanaatyam. Dhananjayan's contributions
to the development and propagation of Indian art and culture is very significant.
have traveled abroad widely and spread the message of Indian art and culture
throughout the world and brought great pride to Bhaarat through their Bharatanaatyam
performances, lecture demonstrations, gurukulam type of training in Bharatanaatyam
and Carnatic music to people of different nationalities.
awarded 'Naatya' award from an International organization in the US is
a testimony to this couple's contribution to the promotion of Bhaarateeya
Samskriti and Art throughout the world.
Music Academy honoured Dhananjayan with the prestigious award and title
"SANGEETA KALA ACHARYA" (2005).
Dhananjayan, wife of Sri. V.P.Dhananjayan and daughter of Sri. A. Raghava
Menon and C.P.Kalliani Amma was born in Chittur, Palghat on 12th August
1943. She joined Kalakshetra in the year 1952 . As a brilliant child
prodigy, she won the praise of Smt. Rukmini Devi and received both diploma
and post graduate diploma with distinction. She is equally qualified in
Carnatic music. Shanta was the prima-Dona of Kalakshetra for almost 15
years, taking major roles in Rukmini Devi's dance drama productions. She
became synonymous with Radha in Gita Govindam and Sita in Ramayana series.
Sri. V.P.Dhananjayan in the year 1966. Ever since, she has been winning
the hearts of connoisseurs with her immaculate perfection in the art she
practiced. A perfect match both at home and stage, Shanta helped Dhananjayan
to establish Bharatakalanjali, an institution par excellence.
she has trained number of world renowned dancers and musicians. She
has traveled around the world several times and contributed to the spread
of Indian art and culture in it's pristine purity.
She has received
innumerable National and International awards which include Kalaimamani,
Nrityachoodamani, Central Sangit Natak Academi award.
Charity Trust award of Rs.50000.00 cash award and silver casket
with citation is a crowning honour this couple received in
are the senior most disciples of the legendary Smt. Rukmini Devi and celebrated
are well known as trendsetters in the field of Bharatanaatyam, bringing
fresh wave of choreographic innovations and creativity within the traditional
ambit. All the present day Bharatanaatyam dancers, have taken inspiration
from new directions they have incorporated, both in solo and group productions.
Bharatakalanjali founded in 1968 is an eloquent testimony to the Bhaarateeya
Samskriti and the best Gurukula system of training combined with modern
approach. This institution serves as a beacon light to many institutions
in the country, following the best of Kalakshetra traditions and Rukmini
are pioneers in spreading the message of Bhaarateeya Samskriti through
their art of Bharatanaatyam throughout the world, for which they have been
recognized by the Indian cultural organizations abroad. The first International
Naatya Award instituted by the American Association of Indian Dancers (AAID)
was awarded to The Dhananjayans in recognition of their service in brining
cultural integrity and good relationship between India and the US.
are pioneers in undertaking collaborations with Western choreographers
and ballet dancers, while keeping the identity of Bharatanaatyam and Kathakali
and other dance forms. As contemporary and modern choreographers
par excellence, they have been appreciated for their uncompromising quality
of Indianness in their presentations never trying to please the westerners
by adopting their technique. Instead they tried to instill and make them
understand the value and greatness of our deep-rooted theatrical technique.
have the largest network of students operating in different parts of the
globe and contributing yeomen service to the propagation of Indian performing
arts, especially Bharatanaatyam and Kathakali.
always represented themselves as Bhaarateeya and true ambassadors of Indian
culture, not only in their art but also in behavior, character, dress code,
and other habits. They are living example of a true Bhaarateeya in practice
and spirit. They have inspired not only their own disciples but all those
who have come across or interacted with them. They are well known as "the
ideal Indian couple -made for each other couple".
are the monumental example to quote " the artists who have come up to an
international celebrity level through their own merit, without political
or bureaucratic influence or media hike up.
are the most respected artists whose help and advice is sought after by
other fellow artists. Without pride, prejudice or jealousy the couple extend
their help with rare humility.
have been instrumental in uniting the artists and to develop a healthy
interaction between dancers, musicians and connoisseurs. As the founder
Secretary and later the President of ABHAI (Association of Bharatanatyam
artists of India) Dhananjayan has brought in a camaraderie spirit among
performing artists, Gurus and students.
always stand by the ideals of "what they can do for the nation and never
asked what the national can do to them". Following this principle they
have not gone for any government help or favour, while they contributed
directly and indirectly to nation building.
are not only great artists but also great social activists. They are environmentalists,
social reformers, supporters of various charitable organizations and educationalists,
very active in taking good cultural education to rural areas, which resulted
in establishing a center in a remote village in north Kerala called Bharateeya
Saamskaarika Kalaa Rangam (Bhaaskara).
we can easily say that no other classical dancers in this country have
contributed as much as The Dhananjayans. This truth can be ascertained
from their life history. As the saying goes "seeing is believing"- a visit
to their Academy Bharatakalanjali, Chennai speak volumes of their yeomen
selfless service to the Nation through their art of Bharatanaatyam.
They always project their art and remain a shadow of their art as a true
living example of a Bhaarata putra. (Children of the soil).