Bharatanatyam legend Padma Bhushan CV Chandrasekhar fondly remembered by all

 Bharatanatyam legend Padma Bhushan CV Chandrasekhar fondly remembered by all

Academician, Bharatnatyam dancer, scholar, musician, composer, choreographer and mentor Padma Bhushan CV Chandrasekhar passed away after a prolonged illness. Professor CV Chandrasekhar who was fondly called Chandru Anna was an alumnus of Kalakshetra, he was known for his uncompromising approach to his art of Bharatnatyam and Carnatic music. He handled all his various roles in a way uniquely his own, he was an artiste whom the entire dance fraternity looked up to in admiration. When it came to art practice, he brooked no compromise, he lived a life rich in artistic values and 89-year-old dancer par excellence passed away last week in Chennai.

Talking about him Padma Vibhushan Dr Sonal Mansingh said, “Chandru was a distinguished alumnus of Kalakshetra, he had a long eventful life and the best part is he danced till the end, he was an extremely affectionate and warm person, with perfect techniques of dance, he produced some excellent students including his daughters. I wish and pray that his soul finds a restful place in the realms of dance in high heavens.’

Dr. Sandhya Purecha, Bharatnatyam Dancer and Chairperson of Sangeet Natak Academy said, “I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of C.V. Chandrasekhar Sir, a luminary in the field of Bharatanatyam, an artist in the truest sense and an inspiring Guru with inimitable artistry. From the times of being a young dancer, I am fortunate to have been a benefactor of his kindness and appreciation especially when he watched me perform the Abhinaya Darpanam and a traditional Javali. Even simple conversations with him were enriching. Chandru Sir’s legacy lives on in all his disciples. My deepest condolences to his family and the dance community.”

Born in Shimla on May 22, 1935, CV Chandrasekhar was exposed to Carnatic music at an early age. His formal training in music began at Kalakshetra in 1945. Though he was sent there to learn music from T.K. Ramaswamy Iyengar and Budalur Krishnamurthy Sastri, Rukmini Devi wanted him to train in Bharatanatyam as well. Known for his flawless technique and nuanced abhinaya, CV Chandrashekar owed his long journey in the performing arts to the meticulous training imparted by gurus S. Sarada, Vasantha and Sarada Hoffman at Kalakshetra. Even before his arangetram in 1950, he became an integral part of the famed Kalakshetra dance dramas. The first role that he performed was that of a Kattiakaran in ‘Kuttrala Kuravanji’.

After his schooling, college and dance training in Chennai, CVC did his post-graduation in Botany from Banaras Hindu University. He married Jaya, a lawyer and a trained dancer, in 1962. They spent close to two decades teaching dance at BHU. Their daughters Chitra Dasarathy and Manjari Rajendra Kumar are also trained Bharatanatyam dancers. Among CVC’s notable choreographic productions are Kalidasa’s ‘Ritu Samharam’ and ‘Meghadootham’, ‘Aparajitha’, ‘Pancha Maha Bhootham’, ‘Arohanam’, ‘Bhoomija’ and ‘Bhramarageeth’.

Remembering him fondly renowned Bharatnatyam exponent Rama Vaidhyanathan said, “CV Sir as we all fondly call him was an icon in the world of Bharatanatyam. His contribution in terms of teaching, choreography and composing is unmatched. His very stance on stage, erect and composed spoke of decades of discipline and dedication. I will cherish the warm encouragement that I always received from him. May he continue dancing wherever he goes.”

Extremely emotional dancer Mavin Khoo said, “Chandru sir knew me since I was 13 years old, he was elegant, dignified and the personification of grace, obsessed with dance and music and the rigour of practise. Sir was the best friend of my Guru, Lakshman Sir, he remained a guide for me, my creative father when I lost Lakshman Sir. Today I am consumed with sadness, deep gratitude, so much love and I must admit some anger – anger for this modern world that is dismissive of the legacies of such a great master, furious that so many articulate their voices and opinions about dance and its future with limited perspectives, superficial study and self serving agendas, all whilst dismissing the deeply lived experiences of a master like him. I am irritated by those who today are reflecting on the loss of the embodied memories of these masters, when they have in the last few years been so careless and irresponsible in how they have been navigating and facilitating the much needed space for discourse.  I am consumed by many layers of emotion, but mostly, I am just filled with love for this great man who touched my life and so many others, who somehow had the ability to be a creative father to all of us. My dear Chandru sir rest in peace you can now dance eternally in the heavens with Lakshman Sir singing for you.”

Kalashri Dr Lata Surendra, who is a well known Bharatnatyam dancer said, ‘My quote is an ode unto an inspiration. The sheer beauty of Indian classical dance lies in the potency of its rooted Tradition. There are always those who are a class apart who enhance the aesthetics of the finer points of life – the fine arts of life with their unstinted dedication, passion, unique untainted vision ever so exclusive and sir was all that and beyond. I have always marvelled at Guru Dr CV Chandrasekhar’s stamina that seemed always to transform matter to light. His clarity of footwork shaming time and wooing an evasive perfection with aplomb. He will live on in every heart that treasures art as not separate from life but – Life itself.’ After seeing Surendra perform Guru Chandrashekhar had once said, ‘Art needs to always express because what stays on in hearts is a message that we dancers have meditated upon to flower as a visual prayer.’

In 1980, CVC went on to become the Head of Department of Performing Arts at M.S. University in Baroda, the only university then to offer a curriculum in classical dance. A recipient of several awards including the Padma Bhushan, Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship, Kalidas Samman, Sangeeta Kala Acharya from the Music Academy and Nritya Choodamani from Sri Krishna Gana Sabha, C.V. Chandrasekhar’s success as a soloist paved the way for other male Bharatanatyam enthusiasts to pursue the art form.

Such visionaries come once in many lifetimes, his demise definitely creates a void in the world of Bharatnatyam dance but, he will always live on through his teachings and goodwill, he lived a full life filled with abundance of dance. Let us say a soulful goodbye to the legend with lines of the famous mystic poet and sant Kabir Das, who said ‘Vriksh Bola Paat Se, Sun Patte Meri Baat, Iss Ghar Ki Yeh Reet Hai, Ek Aawat Ek Jaat.’

Sandip Soparrkar holds a doctorate in world mythology folklore from Pacific University USA, an honorary doctorate in performing arts from the National American University, He is a World Book Record holder,
a well-known Ballroom dancer and a Bollywood choreographer who has been honored with three
National Excellence awards, one National Achievement Award and Dada Saheb Phalke award
by the Government of India. He can be contacted on [email protected]


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