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Remembering Padmini Rao
- Shantha Rao, UK

January 17, 2008

Padmini Rao was a Bharatanatyam guru who headed Ponnayya Lalita Kala Academy in Bangalore. She passed away at a young age of 52 last year on January 27, while conducting a dance recital at Ravindra Kalakshertra.

I have learnt many dance items from Padmini Rao during my visits to India for training. Three years ago when I met her, I was in the period in my dance career where I was beginning to feel a strong urge to teach Bharatanatyam. I went to her for help with choreography for a few dance compositions. I will remember her forever for teaching me two most beautiful and precious dance items - One is 'Ananda Narthana Ganapathi' in raga Nattai and a Jatiswaram piece in raga Kalyani. The arrangement of rhythms in these dances is simple yet sophisticated. She helped with the recording in a studio in Bangalore choosing an excellent singer and mridangist. I have performed these items in many events here in Yorkshire. I have proudly presented the Jatiswaram in a Conference for Teachers of Mathematics to highlight the rhythmic variety and accuracy of jatis in Bharatanatyam dance.

I have now taught these dances to my young student Nuthana Prathivadi and other local dancers who are based here. Nuthana even won a prize in the Wharfedale Festival of Performing Arts for dancing the Jatiswaram.

We will be performing these dances in the Square Chapel Arts Centre in Halifax on 3rd Feb at 11am in her memory celebrating her work. We want to say, "Thank you, Padmini Rao... You live here in Yorkshire for ever!"

Shantha Rao is a Bharatanatyam dancer based in Halifax in Yorkshire, UK.

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