Padma Bhushan Kalanidhi Narayanan
1928 – 2016
Recipient of Padma Bhushan and Sangeet Natak Akademi, India’s most prestigious national awards for the arts, Kalanidhi Narayanan was recognized as one of the most important performers and teachers of classical Bharatanatyam of her time. Her extensive and celebrated career as a soloist and teacher of abhinaya won her critical acclaim and respect in the international dance community.
Trained under the most illustrious dance gurus of the renaissance period that saw the revival of Bharatanatyam from its temple traditions, Kalanidhi Narayanan’s early talent was recognized in the late 1930’s.
She pursued very intensive training in the art of Aabhinaya under Mylapore Gauri Amma and Chinnaya Naidu- recognized as the doyens of this very specialized art of gestural and facial expression.
As Director of Abhinayasudha, a Bharatanatyam teaching institution in Chennai, India, her teaching career started in 1973 where her classes in abhinaya drew a large number of students, many of whom today are India’s leading classical Bharatanatyam soloists. Many dancers from various parts of the world traveled to Chennai to train with Guru Narayanan.
Kalanidhi’s forte lay in her scholarly approach and research in the revival of traditional compositions. Her extensive research led to the creation of new choreography of thematic works that have been performed in ensemble productions. Her background in classical Carnatic music gave her performances and choreography a strong sense of musicality. Her proficiency in several Indian languages made her choreographic range versatile and immensely accessible to audiences of varied backgrounds.
Kalanidhi’s reputation as a teacher took her to many parts of the world where her master classes and teaching residencies attracted established dance and theatre artists. She presented workshops in Europe, South East Asia, England and North America. She was a frequent and respected presenter in international dance symposiums and conferences including the Kalanidhi Festival of Indian Dance in Toronto and was a frequent visitor to Nrtyakala – Academy of Indian Dance in Toronto where she worked with Menaka Thakkar’s students to refine their dance and abhinaya skills.