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The modern Bharatnatyam dance as we know it today has various styles which vary in nuances. At Kalyani Kala Mandir we practice and teach the Dandayuda Pani Pillai School or style of Bharatnatyam.

K.N. Dandayudapanipillai was born on July 14, 1921 at Karaikkal in a family of musicians. Dandayudapani studied music under the guidance of his father, A.K. Natesa Pillai, a famous musician of his time. At the age of twelve he began to appear on the music platforms giving regular concerts.

Dandayuda’s grandfather, Ram Krishna Pillai was a well known Bharatnatyam vidwan. He trained him in the art of Bharatnatyam. Dandayuda later taught at Kalakshetra for seven years. During his stay there he benefited by his association with the renowned Pandanallur Meenakshisundaram Pillai, Muthukumar Pillai and Chokkalingam Pillai. After leaving Kalakshetra, he started his own dance institution called Natyakalalayam in Chennai.

He trained several dancers who became prominent filmstars and top ranking contemporary artistes such as Vyjayanthimala, Jayalalitha, Jayalakshmi Alva, Kaushalya and Srividya, daughter of the famous vocalist M.L.Vasanthakumari and others.

He also directed dance and music for a number of Tamil and other south Indian language films. For the film “The River”, he choreographed a Bharatnatyam number for Radha Burnier (nee Sriram). He also composed many songs in Tamil.

He choreographed several dance –dramas in which students both from the film world and stage took part. Chitrambalam Kuravanji, Silapaddikaram, Shri Andal, Krishna Talabbaram, Padmavanti Srinivasa Kalayanam, Sivakamiyan Sabatham and Kumberasara Juravanji are some of his well known productions.

He had a remarkable talent for composing jatiswarams, padams, varnams and tillanas. He was conferred the Kalaimamani title by the Tamil Nadu Eyal Isai Nataka Manaram. He was also awarded the Padmashree for his contribution to the field of Bharatnatyam. Shri Dandayudapanipillai passed away in the year 1974.

His niece and disciple, Guru Smt. Kalyani Shekar has been successfully carrying on the tradition of teaching the Dandayudapanipillai style of Bharatnatyam in the capital for the past three decades. She has been my Guru and mentor for past 25 years and we are proud that our institution is named after her.

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