Adyar K. Lakshman was a renowned Bharatnatyam dancer and Guru, and choreographer. His contributions to Bharatha Nayam, as a dance guru, composer and nattuvanar; were recognized through several awards that were bestowed upon him. This included the Padma Shri award in 1989, and Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for Bharatnatyam, in 1991.
Adyar K. Lakshman was born on 16 December 1933 in Kuppam, Chittor, Andhra Pradesh, India. His father, Krishnaraja Rao, was a school teacher. Lakshman and his brother Rama Rao were selected at a young age by Kalakshetra, a world acclaimed fine arts college run by Rukmini Devi Arundale, the renowned Bharatnatyam dancer.
In 1944, Adyar Lakshman began his education and training at Kalakshetra when he was just 11 years old. He was trained in vocal music, Bharatha Natyam, Mridangam and Nattuvangam. He was exposed to the classical dance by none other than Rukmini Devi Arundale herself. He also trained under other great masters in the field, like Mylapore Gowri Ammal, K. N. Dandayudhapani Pillai, Mysore Vasudevacharya, Tanjore Rajagopala Iyer, and many more.
In 1954, he graduated from Kalashetra in Bharatanatyam, Carnatic music and Nattuvangam. He continued at Kalakshetra with a Government of India scholarship, and received his post-graduate diploma in 1956. He specialised in Mridangam and also learnt Kathakali. He was cast by Rukmini Devi in prominent Kalakshetra productions such as “Kumara Sambhavam”, “Kutrala Kuravanji”, “Sita Swayamvaram” and “Usha Parinayam” which were based on the Melattur Bhagavata Mela tradition.
His Career and Contributions
Lakshman then ventured as a teacher in Vyjayantimala Bali’s school, Natyalaya. Over more than a decade, he conducted over many Arangetrams, and assisted in productions like “Tiruppavai”, “Azhagar Kuravanji”, “Chandalika” and “Sanga Tamizh Malai”.
In August 1969, he founded the Bharatha Choodamani Academy of Fine Arts in Adyar, Chennai. From then onwards the word “Adyar” stuck to his name. He has trained many dancers including Anita Ratnam, Jayanthi Subramaniam, Padmini Chari, Kamadev, Bragha Bessell, Roja Kannan, Mavin Khoo, Ramli Ibrahim and many more. Many of his students have established their own dance schools in India and abroad. He was also involved in dance drama productions like “Varunapuri Kuravanji”, “Aiychiar Kuravai,” and many more. He also choreographed dance sequences in films like “Hamsa Geethe”, “Subba Sastri” and “Ananda Tandavam”.
He passed away on 19 August 2014 in Chennai at the age of 81, after being hospitalized for stroke.
Inspirational Quotes by Adyar K. Lakshman
“I appreciate everyone’s talents, but I believe one should not change another person’s choreography.”
“There is beauty involved in dance. It is not about sweating out one’s bad cholesterol. You will gain exceedingly good amount of radiance and grace.”
“Art enhances the value and quality of life…”
“I insist on early learning. But I also encourage adults who want to learn it for the art; sake to take the dance as a hobby. It is never too late to start.”
Adyar Lakshman was considered the doyen of Bharatnatyam and he spread this dance form all over the world. He left a rich legacy of dance repertoire for generations to come and made an indelible mark in the history of Bharatnatyam.
Written By: Raj Kumar Hansdah