Nataraja Ramakrishna

Nataraja Ramakrishna
Born 31 March 1923(1923-03-31)
Bali, Indonesia
Died 7 June 2011(2011-06-07) (aged 88)
Nizam's Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS), Hyderabad
Nationality Indian
Known for Classical dancer, Guru, Writer, Classical Dance Composer, Reviver of Andhra Natyam, Perini Shivatandavam
Religion Hinduism
Spouse none
Parents Damayanti Devi, Rammohan Rao
Awards Padma Shri

Nataraja Ramakrishna (31 March 1923 – 7 June 2011) was a dance guru from Andhra Pradesh, India. He was the chairman of Andhra Pradesh Sangeeta Nataka Academy.[1] He was also a scholar and musicologist who promoted classical dance in Andhra Pradesh and worldwide.


Early Life

Ramakrishna was born in Bali, Indonesia to Indian migrant family, Damayanti Devi, who hailed from Nalgonda, and Ramamohan Rao, from East Godavari. His mother was a Veena exponent. Ramakrishna lost his mother at the age of 3. The family later returned to India.Since his childhood, Ramakrishna was interested in classical dance forms.He left his family and property for the love of art since his father did not approve of it. He Spent his boyhood in Ramakrishna Math at Madras, currently Chennai and Mahatma Gandhi's ashram. His elder brother Shyama Sundar was his mentor. During his childhood he came in touch with great gurus like Meenakshi Sundaram Pillai, Vedantam Laxminarayana Sastry, Smt Naidupeta Rajamma and Pendyala Satyabhama under whom he learnt various forms of art. His first dance teacher was Sukhdev Kartak in Nagpur.[2]

Dance and Awards

His dance performance before the royal assembly consisting of scholars, poets, art critics and the elite of Nagpur city was his turning point. At the age of 18, he was given the title of ‘Nataraja' in Nagpur, by the then ruler of Maratha. He was the architect of the revival of the Andhra Natyam dance form, a devotional temple dance tradition performed in Andhra Pradesh for over 400 years until virtually extinct.[3].He is also known for reviving Perini Shivatandavam, 700 year old dance form and brought international fame to it along with Kuchipudi -another traditional dance form. On request of the then Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Neelam Sanjiva Reddy he established Nritya Niketan - a dance school at Hyderabad. Other awards bestowed upon him were the Padma Shri in 1992, "Kala Prapoorna,"- a doctorate from the Andhra University and a ‘Bharata Kala Prapoorna,'- by Andhra Pradesh Sangeet Natak Akademi and NTR State Award by Andhra Pradesh State government. He was awarded with Raja-Lakshmi Award in 1991.[4] Over his long career he trained many dancers and wrote and choreographed highly acclaimed dance dramas.He helped to propagate Chindu Yakshaganam(Telugu: చిందు-యక్షగానం), an ancient folk form of Telangana and revived other folk arts like Tappetagullu (Telugu: తప్పెటగుళ్లు) of Srikakulam and Vizianagaram districts, Veera Natyam and Garagalu of East and West Godavari districts, Devadasi dance and dance tradition of temples performing Adhyatma Ramayana. He also helped and encouraged dance artistes like Dommaras, Guravayyalu, Urumulu and Veedi Bhagavatulu. He also practiced Satvikabhinaya- a dance art. He composed life of Lord Venkateshwara as a "Nrutya nataka" (ballet).[5] As a research scholar sponsored by the Government of India, he worked in the then USSR (now Russia) and France to propagate Indian dance art, making a comparative study of Indian and western Classical and folk dances.[6]. He was bestowed with the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship (Academi Ratna) on 21st January 2011. He wrote more than 40 books, many of them highly awarded, and his contribution to the art of dance is widely recognized. With his innumerable performances, lecture demonstrations and through his extensive travels he created an awareness not only of Kuchipudi dance, but also revived the lost and forgotten dance forms of Andhra Pradesh.


During his final days he suffered from Pneumonia and was admitted to Nizam's Institute of Medical Sciences at Hyderabad where he breathed his last. He was a bachelor. His body was buried on 08th June 2011 at a land given to him near the famous monument Taramathi Baradhari at Hyderabad.


  1. ^ Kothari, Sunil; Avinash Pasricha (2001). Kuchipudi. Abhinav Publications. p. 7. ISBN 9788170173595. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ Uma Rama Rao, K. (1992). Kuchipudi Bharatam, or, Kuchipudi dance: a South Indian classical dance tradition. Sri Satguru Publications. p. 63. ISBN 9788170302919.
  4. ^ Sri Raja-Lakshmi Foundation
  5. ^
  6. ^ Lal, Mohan (2006). The Encyclopaedia Of Indian Literature, Volume 5. Sahitya Akademi. p. 4385. ISBN 9788126012213.

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