(Last Updated on : 15/01/2015)
Bharata Kalanjali, located at Adyar in Chennai is an academy of Indian classical dance and music. This institute primarily offers coaching in Bharatnatyam as full time course. Part time course and special courses are also offered in Bharatnatyam dance style. Theory classes occupy an important place in the curriculum of dance education at Bharata Kalanjali. The academy also imparts training in Carnatic vocal and instrumental music. Bharata Kalanjali has another branch named "Bhaaskara" at Payannur in Kerala.
The founder members of Bharata Kalanjali are Sri V P Dhananjayan and wife Shanta Dhananjayan. They are popularly known as the Dhananjayans and have become a legendary dancing couple of India in their time. After establishing their own academy Bharata Kalanjali, the two disciples of the legendary Rukmini Devi of Kalakshetra, have become international celebrities. they teach students from both India and abroad. Bharata Kalanjali was founded in 1968 and since then has trained a number of students who have established themselves in different parts of the world.
The founder members of Bharata Kalanjali were initially students of Kalakshetra. Later, Dhananjayan started his independent teaching career with one student named Chitty Lakshmi. However Dhananjayans still lived and taught in the Kalakshetra premises as there was no space obtainable to set up a class. Chitty was the solitary student who had the opportunity of Dhananjayan going to her house to teach her dance. The Dhananjayans finally moved out of Kalakshetra in 1968 and took up a house at Sastri Nagar.
After facing a tough time, Dhananjayans started Bharata Kalanjali with virtually no base and no financial backing; it was an uphill task for them. The dance class had a thatched roof and Sumathi Meenakshisundaram was the first student. The only support in those times was Shanta's parents. As a dancing couple, they faced many hurdles in the coming year, but they never moved back of their mission to promote Indian dance. They had a lot of ideas and wanted to propagate them as soon as possible. They worked hard to fulfill their aspirations to make their Bharata Kalanjali internationally recognised as one of the premier institutions for dance training.
At Kalakshetra they did not have many chances to compose and choreograph their own dance dramas; such chances came later through Bharata Kalanjali. With their own institution, they were able to compose and choreograph while still in their thirties. Not restricted by rules and regulations of an academy, they offered training to the students with specialised styles and philosophies that they learnt at Kalakshetra, however they also included many more nuances in dances at Bharata Kalanjali. Eventually, students from the different states joined Bharata Kalanjali and in 1970, when the number swelled to a remarkable 50 students, the Dhananjayans became full time teachers and performers.
In 1972, the Dhananjayans conducted the arangetram of their first student Chitty Lakshmi at Kalaivanar Arangham. This was a remarkable show by the Bharata Kalanjali. In 1976, the Bharata Kalanjali shifted to its present premises at 6, Jeevarathnam Nagar, Adyar with a small thatched cottage at the back of the house. It was rebuilt in 1985 as a proper building with appropriate facilities for the students, like a dressing room and washroom. An environment befitting an aesthetic centre of learning was also created. Another notable student of Bharata Kalanjali, Aspi Mullah's arangetram took place in 1974 at the Christian Arts Centre. V R Devika's arangetram was presented at the Thiruvanmiyur temple. These were some of the noteworthy students of Bharata Kalanjali.
Bharata Kalanjali is a renowned institution in India and across the globe. This dance institute is considered to be one of the finest Indian performing arts companies today. With their troupe, the Dhananjayans have performed with merit all over India and abroad wining global acclaim. Their success as Bharatnatyam dancers can be attributed to the fact that they have been able to include a new dimension to the presentation of their art, thus, combining choreographic talent while holding back the aesthetic quality of classical tradition.
Some special performances of Bharata Kalanjali are as follows -
In the year 1988, the Dhananjayans performed at the Rashtrapati Bhavan for the President of India along with their son Satyajit who was only 14 at that time.
In the year 1986, Turaiyur Rajagopala Sarma an accomplished Carnatic musician contributed as the guiding spirit for many of Bharata Kalanjali's productions. The Dhananjayans presented their homage in Bharatanaatyam to Rajagopala Sarma on April 14, 1986 on Tamil New Years day at the Music Academy.
In the year 1981, Bharata Kalanjali gave special performance on March 4, 1981 for Mr.Karl Carstens, President of the Federal Republic of Germany.
In the year 1980, the students of Bharata Kalanjali participated in the first Natyanjali dance festival at Chidambaram temple sponsored by the Sangeet Natak Akademi as well as in many festivals in subsequent years.
Consistent training in Bharata Kalanjali has shaped the careers of many students in the sphere of Indian classical dance. Some of the students of Bharata Kalanjali have become University rank holders, brilliant doctors and academicians as well. The Dhananjayans proudly affirm that they have achieved the utmost level of success in training Indians in classical dance that not only gifted them a separate identity but also countless ways to know about their own motherland in a better way.