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Prabhavathi Gopal Shastry

January 12, 2015

Prabhavathi Gopal Shastry hailed from a family of musicians. Her grandfather Vishnu Hebbar used to teach sitar at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mumbai and her father J V Acharya is a well-known sitarist who has played for more than 1000 film songs in all languages. He was awarded the Dada Saheb Phalke Award in 2003 for his 50 years of service in Indian cinema.

Jayalakshmi Alva and Prabhavathi Shastry

Prashanth and Prabhavathi Shastry

Prabhavathi Shastry started her training in Bharatanatyam from Ramakrishna Alva and Jayalakshmi Alva from the Chitrambalam Dance Center in Mumbai. She also learnt Kathak from Pandit Hazarelal for some time. With the encouragement of her husband G M Gopal, she started her own dance school Gayathri Nrithyalaya in 1975 in Bangalore and brought many dancers to the field of Bharatanatyam. She performed in many dance festivals all around India. She was the founder member of Vidya Vardhaka School's Lalitha Kala Academy at Rajajinagar (Bangalore) where she was the dance director. She was fondly called by her friends and colleagues as Tripura Sundari. She choreographed many dance dramas like Samudra Mantana, Ramayana, Mohini Basmasura, Nava Shakthi and folk dances of India feature called Bharath Darshan.

In 2005, along with her son Prashanth Shastry, she founded Naatyakalakshetra at Chennai and Bangalore. Today, they have many students who learn from them. Her two daughters Shilpa and Gayathri also are well known Bharatanatyam dancers. Though they have branched out in other professions, they come together during the festivals at Naatyakalakshetra. From 2008, Prabhavathi conducted a dance festival at both Chennai and Bangalore called Nrithya Utsava dedicated to her late husband G M Gopal.

Prabhavathi recently performed for a dance drama 'Ramayana Darshan' choreographed by her son Prashanth for her 60th birthday celebrations at Chennai and Kanyakumari organised by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. Prabhavathi was loved by her students for her simplicity and support system to the continuance of her dance school Naatyakalakshetra by Prashanth Shastry.

Prabhavathi is the recipient of Nrithya Kala Tarangini award during her 60th year celebrations given by the committee of Nrithya Utsava festival. Her son Prashanth and daughter-in-law Sunitha have released an audio cd titled 'Nrithya Prabha' dedicated to her services in dance for dancers.

Prabhavathi passed away on the January 7, 2015 at her Chennai residence. She was 66 years of age.

We have fond memories of Prabhavati. She was my class mate in Sane Guruji Vidyalay, Dadar, Mumbai. Thanks for sharing her information and photos.
- Madhusudan Kalyankar (Dec 18, 2023)

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