Devout and dedicated
Udupi Lakshminarayana ... a veteran in the art.
RECENTLY DANCE guru Udupi Lakshminarayana observed the remembrance day of his guru, Kanchipuram Ellappa, an illustrious exponent of dance. A book titled "Nadanathil Pudiya Pathaigal", authored by Udupi Lakshminarayana, and containing informative articles on dance, accounts of certain deeper nuances of his technique, and the general significance of the art, and dedicated to the memory of his guru, was released by Dr. Padma Subrahmaniam to mark the special event of Guru Charana Smaranam.
Lakshminarayana, the 76-year-old veteran teacher, a native of Karnataka, hails from a family steeped in Vedic and Sastraic studies. Having grown up in a devotional and musical surrounding, young Lakshminarayana was drawn to the Fine Arts, including music and dance.
In 1948 Woodlands K. Krishna Rao, at the instance of Sri Viswesa Tirtha of Pejawar Math, introduced him to Kanchipuram Ellappa, a well-known nattuvanar. Thus began a fruitful partnership.
Kanchipuram Ellappa... an illustrious nattuvanar.
Lakshminaryana focussed all his attention on both aspects of Sastra and Prayoga, by learning the repertoire and studying all the relevant texts in Sanskrit. In 1953 he completed the Government Higher Grade Examination in Dance with a first class, while mastering the technique of nattuvangam. He is probably one of the earliest aspirants from outside the traditional nattuvanar community to have learnt the skill from Ellappa nattuvanar.
Later, while working in the Madras University, he was introduced to Gemini Studios and thereupon worked for several films as dance director and dancer. Lakshminarayana (and his dance company established in 1962) was well known for his colourful and innovative works, like "Dharma Murti" (on Jesus Christ), and traditional ballets like "Rukmini Swayamvaram".
In 1980, he founded Natya Manjari, a centre for Bharatanatyam, which is engaged in the propagation of the Ellappa tradition.
Young Lakshminarayana as Krishna.
Lakshminarayana, is the recipient of several awards and recognition that includes the Kala Sri from the Karnataka State Government.
Sri Krishna Gana Sabha will bestow on him the title of Acharya Choodamani, a new honour for dance gurus, during its annual Natya Kala conference this year.
"I believe in the bountiful blessings of my guru which leads me through the path of success. My daughter and disciple Madhumathi Prakash shares the responsibility with me," says Lakshminarayana.
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