Shortly after I took over the Vice Chancellorship last month our respected and eminent colleague Nataraja Ramakrishna passed away. One of my earliest and sad tasks on behalf of the University community was to lay a wreath at his feet then…
Dr Nataraja Ramakrishna was one of the founding members of our University’s Sarojini Naidu School of Arts and Communication. As the first appointed Professor of the Dance Department of the School, he methodically structured the entire dance curriculum and developed a pedagogic practice for teaching dance at the post-graduate level. Through the introduction of the doctoral programme in dance in 1991, he helped systematize the study of dance and brought in new research perspectives. As many as 9 PhDs were completed under his supervision. His association with the Department continued into his final years.
There was cause to celebrate his career once again last Friday. Padmasree Bharatakalaprapoorna Dr. Nataraj Ramakrishna was posthumously conferred the prestigious Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship (referred to as the Akademi Ratna Sadasyata), along with noted vocalist Girija Devi, dhrupad maestro Rahimuddin Dagar, and mridangam exponent T. K. Murthy.
Guru Nataraj Ramakrishna was an eminent dancer, guru, scholar, and musicologist propagating classical dance in Andhra Pradesh for the last 50 years. He was the architect of Andhra Natyam, a dance form he recreated and made popular. He also reconstructed the “Perini Sivatandavam”, the militant male dance tradition of the tenth Century AD (Kakatiya Period). He revived “Navajanardanam” a great prabanda dance tradition that was being performed in Kunti Madhava Temple at Pitapuram in East Godavari District of Andhra Pradesh for the last 400 years.
He choreographed and staged “Sri Venkateswara Kalyanam”, “Kumara Sambhavam”, “Megha Sandesam” and won the Swarna Kalasam at Ujjain for the production of “Kumara Sambhavam”. He wrote over 40 books on Dance, six of which won him awards from the Government of India. His outstanding books are “Dakshinathyula Natyakala Charitra” and “Andhras and the Art of Dance,” a treatise covering a period of 2000 years.
The University of Hyderabad, in recognition of his seminal contribution to dance, conferred an honorary doctorate on him and has instituted the annual Nataraj Ramakrishna Lecture on Art and Culture in the year 2009. Recently, the University became the privileged custodian of many of his worldly possessions, including his Padma award and other honours.
I would like to thank Professor Vinod Pavarala, Dean of the S N School, for most of the above write-up.