95th birth anniversary celebrations of T Balasaraswati

May 20, 2013

Bharatanatyam guru Adyar K Lakshman hails from Kuppam in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh. PD Doraiswamy Iyer, a representative of Rukmini Devi Arundale, discovered Lakshman and his brother Rama Rao at a young age. At Kalakshetra, they were offered complete education in the Fine Arts which is where his passion towards dance began. Apart from Bharatanatyam, Lakshman is also trained in Kathakali.

To commemorate T Balasaraswati’s 95th birth anniversary celebrations, the Balasaraswati Institute of Performing Arts in association with Sri Krishna Gana Sabha presented the T. BALASARASWATI - SAMUEL H SCRIPPS AWARD FOR ARTISTIC EXCELLENCE 2013 to guru Adyar K Lakshman on May 17, 2013 at Sri Krishna Gana Sabha, Chennai. The award was presented by Veghavagini, Gopalkrishna Gandhi and Y Prabhu.

Guru Adyar K Lakshman receiving the award

Aniruddha Knight

Balasaraswati was a seventh generation representative of a traditional matrilineal family of musicians and dancers. She created a revolution in hereditary music and dance for Bharatanatyam. Her grandmother Vina Dhanammal (1867–1938) is considered by many to be the most influential musician of the early twentieth century. Her mother Jayammal (1890–1967) was a singer who encouraged the training of Balasaraswati and was her accompanist. Her daughter Lakshmi Knight (1943–2001) became a distinguished performer of her mother's style.

Samuel H Scripps and his wife Luise Scripps have been great patrons and supporters of theatre and dance in North America. Samuel and Luise founded and ran the American Society for Eastern Arts (ASEA), a not-for-profit organization dedicated to bringing classical performing artists from Asia to America. Luise Scripps, who was the primary disciple of Balasaraswati in the west, was solely responsible for creating the Balasaraswati archives which she collected for over 30 years. The Balasaraswati / Scripps Award for Artistic Excellence has been instituted in memory of these legends by Balasaraswati’s grandson, Aniruddha Knight.

The award function was preceded by a dance recital by Aniruddha Knight. He performed “Velavarae” in ragam Bhairavi, a composition of Ghanam Krishna Iyer. This padam was particularly selected by Aniruddha as it was one that Bala performed often. The Kshetrayya padam “Paiyata Paimeethu” set to ragam Nadanamakriya was chosen as it was a staple of the Dhanammal tradition and the epitome of a padam.  Aniruddha presented “Krishna Nee Begane” as a vandanam to her remembrance.