Kuchipudi guru Pasumarti Sitaramayya is no more (Feb 15, 1927- Feb 9, 2018). Trained by his grandfather Ramanayya, Sitaramayya mastered the techniques on the stage under the expert guidance of guru Vedantam Raghavayya. He also learnt vocal classical music from Yeleswarapu Sitaramanjaneyulu. He was known for his portrayal of female roles of Usha, Sathyabhama and Sashirekha, and his excellent portrayal of Kshetrayya padams. He choreographed several dance dramas. He received the Central Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 2004. Some of his notable disciples include Swapna Sundari, Indrani Rehman, Radha Reddy and Sonal Mansingh who studied briefly from him.
Kathakali maestro Madavoor Vasudevan Nair (7 April 1929 – 6 Feb 2018) collapsed in the middle of a Kathakali performance (he was doing the role of Ravana) at Agasthyakod Mahadevi Temple at Anchal in Kollam, Kerala. He was 89. From 1967 to 1977, he worked as a faculty at the Thekkan Kalari (Southern school of Kathakali) of the Kerala Kalamandalam. He was the principal of Kalabharathi in Pakalkkuri near Kottarakkara. A disciple of Guru Chengannur Raman Pillai, he followed the Kaplingadan style of Kathakali of south Kerala. Known for portraying varied types of roles of Pacha (Green), Kathi (knife) and Thadi (beard) characters, Vasudevan Nair concentrated more on anti-hero roles such as Ravana, Duryodhana, Keechaka, Jarasandha, Bana and Kamsa. He has been honored with Padma Bhushan (2011), Kerala Kalamandalam Puraskaram, Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1997) and a fellowship from the Central Government, Thulaseevanam Award, Alappuzha Kathakali Club Award, Keraleeya Kalakshetra Award, and Guru Chengannur Memorial Award.
The legendary Ottanthullal artiste Kalamandalam Geethanandan passed away on stage, right in the middle of his performance in Avitatthur Mahavishnu Temple in Irinjalakuda, Kerala, on January 28, 2018. He was 58.
Ottan Thullal play Garuda Garva Bhangam
Multifaceted virtuoso by V. Kaladharan
Kuchipudi Guru Vempati Chinna Satyam’s younger son Vempati Ravi Shankar passed away (Oct 11, 1969 - Jan 23, 2018) after an unsuccessful kidney transplant in Hyderabad. His demise at the young age of 49 is a great loss to the Kuchipudi dance field. Apart from being an outstanding Kuchipudi dancer, Ravi was a singer, composer and choreographer par excellence. He was initially trained by Guru Bala Kondala Rao and later by his father. From 1994 to 2004, Ravi Shankar performed the leading male role in almost all of Kuchipudi Art Academy’s productions, including Shiva in Haravilasam and Ardhanareeswaram, Rama in Ramayanam, Dusyanta in Abhignyana Shakuntalam, and Arjuna in Kirata Arjuneeyam. Known for the fluidity of his movements, sophistication of nritta, fine sense of tala and laya, and spontaneous improvisatiosn, he was an embodiment of grace, and stood out among the artists trained at the Kuchipudi Art Academy. An accomplished vocalist trained by Balamuralikrishna, Ravi Shankar insisted on music training, knowledge of sahithya, apart from talas and ragas for dancers. He belonged to the tenth generation of the illustrious Vempati family that has worked towards spreading awareness on Kuchipudi worldwide.
A. Seshan passed away on January 7, 2018 after a long struggle with cardiac problems. He was 84 years old. He was an ardent follower of music and dance and has contributed articles on these subjects to many magazines and newspapers including narthaki.com. His interest in dance, Carnatic music and classical dances began in his teenage years and he followed his interest with serious study of science and technique of the subjects. Many dancers, musicians and artistes will miss his benign presence at performances in Mumbai.
He was well-versed in music and studied veena under Devakottai Narayana Iyengar. He was a scholar of Tamil and English literature. His son Dr. Ramaswami (Singapore) is married to Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi dancer Dr. Siri Rama. Professionally, he was an Economic Consultant, and was in charge of the Economic analysis and Policy of the Reserve Bank of India. Employed in the IMF he was advisor to the National Bank of Kyrgystan and Bank of Sierra Leone. He wrote extensively on the economic scene and his articles were frequently published in Business Line (The Hindu).
Jayanti Sharma (1924-2018) passed away on January 4, 2018. She was 93. Although ailing for last few years, she led a full life, with her rich artistic contributions as dancer, singer, costume-designer, stage-manager, and a collaborator to late choreographer and her illustrious life partner, Narendra Sharma, Bhoomika Dance Theatre.
Radha Viswanathan (1934 - 2018) passed away in Bangalore on January 2, 2018 aged 83.
The first student of Natyacharya Vazhuvoor Ramaiah Pillai in Bharatanatyam and the daughter / disciple of M S Subbulakshmi, she lived with grace and dignity in the shadow of her powerful mentors. She was one of the last few artistes who was a bridge between two generations in the world of arts and culture.