Lakshmi Viswanathan, a disciple of Kanchipuram Ellappa Pillai, performed her arangetram in 1953. She has received training in Carnatic music and learnt Padams from T Mukta. She learnt Kuchipudi from Guru Vempati Chinna Satyam. Lakshmi's abhinaya has been described as visual music. She is a choreographer, teacher and writer on dance and culture. Besides writing the book 'Bharatanatyam – the Tamil Heritage,' she has also directed a documentary 'Poetry of Dance.' Her book 'Women of Pride-The Devadasi Heritage' released on Dec 12, 2008 is about the Devadasi tradition of dance in the temples of Tamil Nadu.
She was the artistic director of the first Mamallapuram Dance Festival in 1991 and was twice elected as vice-president of the Music Academy. A recipient of the Nritya Choodamani, Lakshmi Viswanathan has been convenor of the Natya Kala Conference for two years
There is place for solo dancing. The dancer who choses her repertoire
carefully and does each number with variety and tempo in mind can hold her audience.
With audiences making a beeline to the door after a varnam, how do we retain interest in padams?
I do not see any current dancers dancing any padams worth mentioning.
So where is the question of any worry that audiences dont sit and
watch after the varanam. It is the extra long varnams with no worthy
merit in content that probably drives audiences away. Crisp varnams in
tempos which do not drag and aim to show all that a dancer can show in
mythology, should be edited so that the varnam itself is restored to
its original glory as a centre piece without making it a burden on lay
Where do we draw the line for Shringara on stage? Must we not take into
context the audience and place before choosing our repertoire? (Eg; doing
highly erotic padams, for a young audience)
For children, don't dance erotic padams! For adults, include sensuous
padams, treat the subject with the subtleties available in plenty in
the histrionic and technical apsects of classical dance- subtlety is
the key word....not exaggeration either in ideas, content or
ex-pression. Sringara depicts love.... not lust.
Who is your fave author? What are you now reading?
I am reading Rushdie - a slow read of a master craftsman. I have no
favourites as I dont indulge in fiction-reading. For me Neelakanta
Shastri on the Cholas or Balasubramaniam in Tamil on the Nayaks is