2014

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Actor, director, choreographer, writer and composer Veenapani Chawla, passed away around 11am on November 30, 2014 at a hospital in Pondicherry. She was 67. In 1981, she founded the Adishakti Laboratory for Theatre Art Research in Pondicherry to promote research into the creation of new performance methodologies. She was one of the pioneers of experimental theatre in contemporary India. Trained in Mayurbhanj Chhau, Kalaripayattu, Koodiyattam and Dhrupad singing, she has received the Zee Astiva Award (2006) and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Puruskar (2010). The Theatre of Veenapani Chawla: Theory, Practice, and Performance edited by Shanta Gokhale offers insights into the artist's creative process and her oeuvre.

VEENAPANI CHAWLA (5 Apr 1947-30 Nov 2014) by Chandradasan, Theatre Director, Actor & Writer

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Kathak exponent Sitara Devi (born on 8 November 1920) passed away in the early hours of November 25, 2014 at Jaslok Hospital in Mumbai. She was 94.  She combined the elements of two schools of Kathak, which had developed in Banaras and Lucknow. She represented a lost age when Kathak used to be performed for the whole night. Rabindranath Tagore described her as Nritya Samragini, meaning the empress of dance, after watching her performance when she was just 16 years old. Sitara Devi was a recipient of prestigious awards like Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, Padma Shri and Kalidas Samman.

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Vempati Swarajyalakshmi born on August 1, 1937, well known for her stellar role as a very supporting spouse of late Kuchipudi doyen Vempati Chinna Satyam, passed away in the early hours of October 1, 2014. Swarajyalakshmi is probably one of the last links of the Gurukul type of taking care with affection hundreds of students of Kuchipudi who were trained by Vempati Chinna Satyam. She had been a very integral part of the dance journey of Vempati Chinna Satyam right from the start and been through the thick and thin of his dance voyage. Her role as a Sahadharmi, meaning being ‘a partner in the spiritual life’ was performed to perfection as can be seen from the heights that Vempati Chinna Satyam touched in all aspects of his life. She leaves behind two sons, three daughters and eight grand children.

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Kuchipudi artiste / musician Josyula Krishnamurthy passed away in the early hours of September 1, 2014 at his residence, aged 86. He was the integral part of Venkatrama Kala Mandali and associated with Vedantam Satyanarayana Sarma. He specialized in Sampradhaya Kuchipudi Yakshaganam talas / music and had the honour of accompanying over 8000 programs during his life time.

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Internationally reputed dancer, choreographer, teacher, writer, academician and dance curator, Kathak Guru Dr. Maya Rao passed away in Bangalore around midnight of September 1, 2014. She was 86.  With her passing, a huge vacuum has been created in the world of dance and Kathak. The recently released book MAYA RAO: A LIFETIME IN CHOREOGRAPHY by Dr. Maya Rao published by Department of Kannada and Culture and the Karnataka Sahithya Academy is a valuable record of Indian classical dance and Kathak in particular. Her path breaking achievements suffused with personal reminiscences makes this memoir extremely readable and a significant chapter in the cultural history of India. 
Her daughter Madhu Nataraj can be contacted at: stemdance@hotmail.com
About Dr. Maya Rao

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Yoga guru BKS Iyengar passed away at 3.15am at a private hospital in Pune (Dec 14, 1918 – Aug 20, 2014). Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja Iyengar is one of the world's best-known yoga gurus. He founded the style of yoga known as ‘Iyengar Yoga’ and is considered one of the foremost yoga teachers in the world. At the age of 16, he was introduced to yoga by his guru T. Krishnamacharya. At 18, he was sent to Pune by his guru to teach and preach yoga.

The Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (RIMYI) named after his wife was inaugurated in Pune on January 19, 1975. ‘Iyengar Yoga’ is now being followed by certified teachers across the world. In 1998, he taught 800 of his students for a week on the occasion of his 80th birthday at Pune. In 2000, he conducted a special course for senior ‘Iyengar Yoga’ teachers from nearly 40 countries. Perhaps no one has done more than Iyengar to bring yoga to the West. BKS Iyengar taught several eminent personalities such as J. Krishnamurti, Jayaprakash Narayan (freedom fighter), Achyut Patwardhan (commandant of National Defence Academy) and many physicians and industrialists. His teachings were well appreciated by Dr. Rajendra Prasad (First President of India), Dr. Mohammad Hatta (ex-Vice President of Indonesia), Pope Paul VI and eminent personalities from different countries. A fortuitous meeting with violin maestro Yehudi Menuhin in 1952 was instrumental in introducing the western world to Iyengar. Menuhin was responsible in introducing several luminaries to BKS Iyengar, one of them being the Queen Mother of Belgium.

The author of 14 books, his 1966 book Light on Yoga contains detailed instructions on how to perform more than 200 poses. Considered as the Bible of yoga, it has been translated into 18 languages. The world will dearly miss this wonderful teacher who has been one of the most influential advocates of Yoga.
BKS Iyengar in 1977: www.youtube.com/watch?v=8pIgs03TYo4#t=76

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Legendary Bharatanatyam guru and choreographer Adyar K Lakshman passed away at 8.25pm at BSS Hospital in Chennai on August 19, 2014. He had suffered a stroke and the end came due to respiratory complications. He was 81 yrs old. He is survived by his wife, 2 sons and a daughter. His son Baba Prasad can be contacted at +919884145966

More about Guru Adyar K Lakshman

Responses
This is really very sad news for the dance world, specially for Bharatanatyam, that Guru Adyar K Lakshman is no more. He was one of the very few gurus who was teaching dance but himself was never performing. A great loss for all of us, especially male dancers. My pranams at his feet.  
- Santanu Chakraborty 

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Thangamani Nagarajan passed away peacefully on July 30, 2014 at her residence in Chennai. She was a committee member of Kalakshetra. She was good in theory and practical side of Bharatanatyam. She received the Kalakshetra post graduate diploma with distinction. After marriage, she worked for a few years in Mumbai with Kanak Rele’s institute. She was one of those chosen by Leela Samson, the then director, to see that the Kalakshetra style of Bharatanatyam continued without any flaw. Thangamani has danced in Rukmini Devi’s earlier productions like Kutrala  Kuravanji and Kumarasambhavam.

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Jaya Subramaniam (of Ottawa), wife of late Prof. V. Subramaniam, passed away at the age of 82 on July 27, 2014 in Chennai. Jaya was dynamic, highly accomplished and excelled in her many careers including psychologist, school teacher, librarian, dance producer and arts critic. She contributed her remarkable energy and skills to many community organizations and in her younger days was a Bharatanatyam dancer. Jaya devoted her later years to preserving and sharing her late husband's classical dance dramas based on Buddhist themes.

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Zohra Segal passed away on July 10, 2014 aged 102, at Delhi. A student of Mary Wigman, a dance partner of Uday Shankar, initiated into theatre by Prithviraj Kapoor, a collaborator of Guru Dutt, and a rustic traveller by heart, she represented an epic era of modern times. She was a teacher at the seminal Almora Center of Uday Shankar where Narendra Sharma was fortunate to learn principles of choreography under her.
About Zohra Segal

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Iconic performer and teacher of the Kalakshetra tradition, KP Kunhiraman passed away peacefully on June 12, 2014 at 2.30 am at the Ramachandra Diabetic Hospital in Guindy, Chennai. He was 84 years old.  He was ailing and returned to India two years ago. His wife Katherine Kunhiraman, also a performer and teacher of repute, was by his side during the final moments.

Son of K. Ambu Panikkar, he trained at Kalakshetra under TK Chandu Panickkar.  He taught & performed in major roles in all the Kathakali productions of Kalakshetra for several years. Kunhiraman was famous for his bhava and was best known for playing strong characters in Kalakshetra dance productions like Guha and Ravana in the Ramayana series and Shiva in Kumara Sambhavam. Veenai Sambasiva Iyer actually named him Vishwamitra for his stellar depiction of the role. In 1975 K.P. Kunhiraman and his wife Katherine Kunhiraman established Kalanjali: Dances of India in Berkeley, California. In the US, he was the first to receive the coveted Choreographers' Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.  He had retired and was residing in Chennai. Along with his wife, he had been nominated to receive the LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD from the city of San Francisco's Ethnic Folk Arts Festival on June 14, 2014.



* Kathak guru Kapila Raj passed away on April 12, 2014 at Lucknow. A disciple of guru Lachchu Maharaj, she was director of Sangeet Natak Akademi Lucknow from 1998 to 2012.

* Jhelum Paranjape bereaved... Odissi dancer Jhelum Paranjape’s mother passed away on April 9, 2014 at Mumbai after a brief illness.

* Priyadarsini Govind bereaved... Film producer Muktha Govind, husband of Bharatanatyam dancer Priyadarsini Govind, passed away in Chennai on April 9, 2014 following a massive heart attack.

* Viji Prakash and Mythili Prakash bereaved... Kikkeri Prakash, husband of Bharatanatyam dancer Viji Prakash and father of Mythili Prakash and Aditya Prakash, passed away on April 7, 2014, Los Angeles.

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R Rajagopal, popularly known as ‘Kartik’ Rajagopal, passed away in Chennai on March 30, 2014 aged 88. He was the Founder-Secretary of Kartik Fine Arts that he served for 4 decades and ex-Founder-Secretary of Mylapore Fine Arts Club. He received the Kalaimamani in 2006.

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Kalamandalam Haridas, Kathakali performer and teacher, passed away on March 30, 2014. He was 62. He has performed pacha (heroic) and minukku roles. He was performing in Santhanagopalam on the previous night at Cherthala when he felt uneasy, and was rushed to the hospital where he breathed his last.

* Guru Jagannath Mahanta (May 1, 1941 - March 16, 2014), a leading scholar and exponent of Sattriya, is no more. 

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Leela Sekhar, chairperson of Madras chapter of International Dance Alliance, passed away in Chennai on January 18, 2014. She was 93. IDA is a non-profit international organization founded to promote goodwill and understanding between dancers. Its Madras Chapter was started by Leela Sekhar in 1986.

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Ratan Thiyam's principal actor Bhogen Singh who played role of Emperor Ashoka in Ratan's play Uttar Priyadarshi passed away on January 3, 2014.