She founded the Kalakshetra dance academy in Chennai

Google doodle features Bharatanatyam dancer Rukmini Devi on her 112th birth anniversary
Features Dance Monday, February 29, 2016 - 18:03

On her 112th birth anniversary, Bharatanatyam exponent Rukmini Devi Arundale is honoured by Google, which designed a doodle on the danseuse.

The doodle features a depiction of Rukmani Devi in traditional dance attire with flowers in her hair holding up a mudra amidst trademark lettering of the search giant in trailing pink.

Rukmani Devi, who passed away in 1986, five days before what would have been her 82nd birthday, is considered the most important revivalist of Bharatnatyam from its original 'Sadhir' style prevalent among Devadasis (temple dancers).

However, according to dancer and dance historian Swarnamalya Ganesh, Rukmini Devi was among those who contributed to the appropriation of what was popularly called Sadhir, the dance of the Devadasis, and turn it into an art form.  

Read: How the art of Devadasis was appropriated to create the world of Bharatanatyam

Born in Madurai, the danseuse honed her dancing skills under the watchful eyes of 'Mylapore' Gowri Amma and perfected her technique under the guidance of 'Pandanallur' Meenakshi Sundaram Pillai.

In 1935, Rukmini Devi gave her first public performance at the Diamond Jubilee Convention of the Theosophical Society.

Rukmini Devi and her husband established Kalakshetra, an academy of dance and music, at Adyar, Chennai in January, 1936. In 1962, the academy moved its campus to Thiruvanmiyur.

Today, it is a deemed university under the Kalakshetra Foundation, which counts amongst its noted students Radha Burnier, Sarada Hoffman, Anjali Mehr, Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay, Sanjukta Panigrahi, C V Chandrasekhar, Yamini Krishnamurthy and Leela Samson.

Bharatnatyam, an Indian classical dance form, owes its current name to E Krishna Iyer and Rukmini Devi. The latter has been instrumental in modifying the Pandanallur style and removing the extraneous 'sringaar' and erotic elements from the dance, which were the legacy of its Devadasi association.

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