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date: 10 April 2020

Balasaraswati, Thanjavurlocked

  • Narayana Menon


(b Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, May 13, 1918; d ? Madras, 1984). South Indian dancer and musician. Her family included many distinguished dancers and musicians since the 18th century; during the 19th century some of her forebears studied with Subbaraya Śāstri. Her formal training as a dancer started when she was four under the noted teacher Kandappan Pillai (1899–1942), himself the inheritor of a great tradition, and her mother taught her music. When she was seven her araṇkeṟṟam (formal début) took place at the Kāmākṣi Ammaṉ temple, Kanchipuram, and her professional début was two years later in Madras. As a girl she was already an accomplished and mature dancer with a very large repertory, but she continued to study, notably the basis of abhinaya (dramatic expression) and its improvisation. She became a musician in her own right and a leading exponent of forms such as padam and jāvali...

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