2008
At the age of 81, witty and powerful art critic Clive Alexander Barnes (May 13, 1927 - November 19, 2008) passed away at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan from liver cancer. Even a few weeks before his death, he continued to file reviews for The Post, as he had for the last 30 years. An Oxford-educated, writer and broadcaster, he was born in London. He wrote for several publications simultaneously, primarily The Spectator and The Times of London, which hired him as its first full-time dance critic in 1961. He exposed his readers to dance companies and choreographers like George Balanchine and Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham, Twyla Tharp, Paul Taylor, Frederick Ashton, Antony Tudor and Jerome Robbins. From 1965 to 1977 he was dance /theater critic for the New York Times, the most powerful position he held, since its theater critics' reviews historically have had great influence on the success or failure of Broadway productions.

Barnes was the dance and drama critic at the New York Post since 1978, and senior consulting editor at Dance Magazine. He wrote the 'Attitudes' column for Dance Magazine from 1989 and contributed to the French magazine Ballet 2000 and the British magazine The Stage. He also continued to edit and write for British newspapers such as The Times and the Daily Express (on dance, theater, film and television), and the weekly Spectator magazine.
Barnes authored numerous books related to theater and the performing arts, particularly dance. These include four volumes of 50 Best Plays of the American Theatre, nine series of Best American Plays (with John Gassner), American Ballet Theatre: A 25 Year Retrospective (with Elizabeth Kaye), Masters of Movement: Portraits of America's Great Choreographers (with Rose Eichenbaum), Ballet in Britain Since the War, Frederick Ashton and his Ballets, New York Times Directory of the Theater, Ballet Here and Now, Dance Scene USA, Inside American Ballet Theatre, as well as biographies of Tennessee Williams and Rudolf Nureyev. He was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II in 1975, and appointed a knight of the Order of the Dannebrog in 1972 by Queen Margrethe II of Denmark.

Koodiyattom maestro Ammannur Parameswara Chakyar, 93, died in his house in Irinjalakuda, on November 15, 2008. Son of Kalleli Thamarappilly Thrivikraman Namboodiri and Savithri Illodamma, he was trained by his uncle Ammannur Chachu Chakyar. He was the brother of maestro Ammannur Madhava Chakyar. Being a traditionalist, he did not perform outside the temple arena. Some of his best performances were at the Irinjalakuda Koodalmanikya Temple, Sree Vadakkunnathan Temple, Thirumandhankunnu Temple, Vayalar Siva Temple and Ilamkunnapuzha Temple.

N Vaidyanathan (April 19, 1921 to Nov 14, 2008), a senior government official turned popular cultural columnist during his retirement years, passed away in Chennai.

Rev. Fr. S M George (July 26, 1940 - October 20, 2008) passed away at Christian Medical College, Vellore, where he was undergoing treatment for heart ailment. He founded the Kalai Kaviri in 1977, Kalai Kaviri School of Fine Arts in 1983 and Kalai Kaviri College of Fine Arts in 1996, in Trichi, Tamilnadu. Affiliated to Bharathidasan University, the college is said to be the first and only institution of its kind in South India, for Bharatanatyam and Carnatic music. The learning of Bharatanatyam was also elevated to the status of Doctoral Research for the first time in Tamil Nadu.
By taking Bharatanatyam and Carnatic Music to the marginalised in society, he rose above religion, helping the poorer sections of society to transform themselves into professionals and promoters of performing arts. He founded the dance troupe in 1978. In 2004, he founded the world's first off-campus degree program in Bharatanatyam.

Odissi music composer and singer Sumanta Mohanty was brutally murdered in Bhubaneswar on October 9, 2008. Sumanta is survived by his wife Jyotsna and five-year-old daughter. A memorial gathering at the Ekamra Haat open-air auditorium convened by eminent Odissi dancer Aruna Mohanty for whom late Sumanta had often composed music, was attended by hundreds of performing artistes. A number of eminent and promising singers sang devotional songs for which Sumanta had composed music. He was also into playback singing in films. A documentary on his life compiled by Aruna Mohanty was screened.

Eminent Kathak guru Rohini Bhate passed away at the age of 83 on October 10, 2008 at Pune. Born in 1924, she received training from Lachhu Maharaj and Mohanrao Kallinapurkar of the Lucknow and Jaipur gharanas of Kathak. Rohini Bhate founded Nrityabharati Kathak Dance Academy, Pune, in 1947. Fondly known as 'Tai,' she has trained many dancers, enriched the Kathak repertoire, and choreographed for many dance dramas, films and plays.
She served on the advisory committees of Khairagarh University and Kathak Kendra. She has been honoured with the Maharashtra State Award (1977), the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1997) and the Maharashtra Gaurav Puraskar (1990). She is survived by her son.

L S Rajagopalan, patron of the arts, a scholar in Kerala art forms and Koodiyattom in particular, passed away in Thrissur on September 17, 2008. He was 86. He made history by directing Arunachala Kavi's 'Ramanatakam,' the only Kathakali play in Tamil. He has written 'Women's Role in Koodiyattom' and 'Koodiyattom: Rituals and Preliminaries.' The International Centre of Koodiyattom honoured him with its first award in 2006 and he got the Kalamandalam Award in 2007.

Violin maestro Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan passed away in Chennai on September 8, 2008 after a brief illness. He was 73.
He was born on March 2, 1935 to Ramaswamy Sastri and Meenakshi at Kunnakudi, a place sacred to Lord Muruga in Tamilnadu. He was famous for his experiments on violin and his innovative mind led him to work with veteran thavil vidwan Valayapatti Subramanian. They performed over 3,000 successful concerts together. He played accompaniment to leading vocalists before launching into a solo career, composed devotional songs, music for films as well as dance productions. Vaidyanathan served as Secretary of the Tamil Nadu Iyal Isai Nataka Mandram and also conducted the Thiruvaiyaru Thyagaraja Utsavam for several years. He has received several honors and awards including Padma Shri, Sangeeth Natak Akademi award, Sangeetha Mamani and the Karnataka Isaignani award
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Bharatanatyam guru Jayalakshmi Arunachalam passed away in Chidambaram on August 28, 2008.


Anita Ratnam's mother Leela Ratnam passed away early morning on July 24, 2008 after a brief illness. She was 75. Leela Ratnam encouraged the learning of dance and music in her two daughters Anita and Pritha and actively participated in all aspects of their dance career, from designing special costumes, stage décor and researching new and rare Sanskrit and Tamil songs appropriate for young girls to perform.

Legendary Kutiyattam performer and guru, Ammannur Madhava Chakyar passed away on July 1, 2008 around 9.15pm at his residence aged 92. His funeral was attended by art-lovers, fans, friends, family and several eminent personalities from various fields. Not wanting Koodiyattom to be restricted to the temple arena, he took the art beyond traditional confines. In 2001, Guru Ammannur Madhava Chakyar was selected to receive the UNESCO citation proclaiming Kutiyattom as a "Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity."
He served as the lifelong Kulapati at Ammannur Chachu Chakyar Smaraka Gurukulam which he co-founded with G Venu. He was Chief Resource person at Natanakairali, Research and Performing Centre for Traditional Arts, Irinjalakuda. He was recipient of Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, Padma Shri, Kalidas Samman and Padma Bhushan.
M R Rajan made an award winning documentary film 'Pakarnnatam' on Ammannur Madhava Chakyar.

A descendent of the Thanjavur Quartet, veteran Bharatanatyam guru Pandanallur C Subbaraya Pillai passed away on May 12, 2008 at the age of 94. Subbaraya Pillai was born on Dec 7, 1914. He was the last of the great Natyacharyas, and was the son of Chockalingam Pillai and grandson of the legendary Pandanallur Meenakshi Sundaram Pillai, He ran Lalitha Subramaniam Natya Palli for many years and some of his illustrious students include Alarmel Valli and Meenakshi Chittaranjan. Some of the awards he received are the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award and the Kalaimamani in 1979, the Music Academy's Natyacharya Award in 1995, and Nritta Peranayar title from Chidambaram Natyanjali. He is survived by three sons and two daughters.

Shiva Rao, senior Bharatanatyam guru and director of Bangalore based Sri Durga Parameshwari Nritya Niketan, expired on April 29, 2008. He is survived by his son, London based mridangam player Bhavani Shankar, and dancer daughter Viji Rao in the US.

Delhi based Kathak exponent and guru. Pandit Tirath Ram Azad passed away on 22 April 2008. He was born on 13 December 1933 and trained initially in the Jaipur gharana, then in the Banaras gharana and was also familiar with the Lucknow gharana. He documented the bols of various gharanas in his books. Some titles include Kathak Praveshika, Kathak Darpan, Kathak Shringaar and Kathak Gyaneshwari. He has performed in the film 'Jamuna Kinare' that was released in the 1960s. More a teacher than performer, he choreographed on varied themes. He was also trained in theatre.

M L Koser (1928-2008) passed away in Chandigarh on March 27, 2008 at the age of 80. Koser studied under Uday Shankar and Guru Namudri Pad at Almora, Bharatanatyam in Thanjavur, Kathak at Lucknow and Manipuri dance under Guru Amubi Singh in Manipur. Koser was also a journalist.
He established the Pracheen Kala Kendra in 1956. It is highly creditable that this institution is now the oldest and the most firmly established body of its kind in the country having over 3500 affiliated centers in India and abroad with more than 2 lakh students studying and preparing themselves for various grade of professional courses conducted by it every year. Koser received the Uday Shankar Award, the Gopi Krishan Award, Nritya Shiromani, Nritya Samrat and the President's Awards twice. He is survived by his wife Kathak dancer Shoba Koser, son Sujal and daughter Purva.

Maddalam maestro Kalamandalam Appukutty Poduval died at his residence in Thiruvilwamala on January 27, 2008. He was 84. Poduval was trained in maddalam by Thiruvilwamala Venkichan Swamy. He joined Kalamandalam as a student in 1930 and later became a teacher there. He retired from service in 1986. The master percussionist played a crucial role in elevating the role of the maddalam on the Kathakali stage.

Narendra Sharma, an exponent / choreographer of Indian contemporary and creative dance passed away on January 14, 2008 at New Delhi, after a brief illness. He was 83. He founded Bhoomika Creative Dance Centre in 1972 and his illustrious career spanned over six decades. He is survived by his wife Jayanthi, contemporary dancer/teacher Bharat Sharma and dance therapist daughter-in-law Tripura Kashyap.
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