Kalakshithi – Basavanagudi School of Fine Arts will celebrate the 118th birthday of popular Bharatanatyam dancer and choreographer Rukmini Devi Arundale this week.
Eighty students from the school will perform solo and group dance pieces over three days. “There will be a Bharatanatyam show, a garba show and a special Tamil Nadu folk dance,” Prabha Srinivasan, a music teacher at the school, said of the tribute.
The dance school was established by MR Krishnamurthy, a disciple of Rukmini Devi, in 1991. “I spent about 14 years under his tutelage and traveled to 35 countries teaching Bharatanatyam. She was a teacher and dancer like no other. She was one of the first dancers to introduce art to the public,” he says.
Remembering his teacher fondly, the 84-year-old founder says: “Art without vulgarity, beauty without cruelty and education without fear, these were his three main principles. This inspired me to start my dance school to pass on these principles to future generations. Affectionately nicknamed “Kittu Sir” by his students, he would like the younger generation to sincerely embrace the dance form. “Dancing is about devotion and dedication. If you do it right, it can help you reach a level of spirituality,” he says.
The dance school celebrates Rukmini Devi’s birthday every year but had to put the tradition on hold since 2020 due to the Covid outbreak. “This year’s show is going to be on a smaller scale since we’re just coming back after the (Covid) break,” Prabha informs.