Yamini Krishnamurti With Renuka Khandekar
Yamini Poornatilaka Krishnamurti, a little tomboy growing up in the temple town of Chidambaram, felt strangely drawn towards the dancing figures sculpted on the temple walls. When the time came for her to settle down to a formal school education, she astonished her family by declaring she would rather learn dance at Kalakshetra, the dance school established by Rukmini Devi Arundale. It was to be a long and arduous journey, but Yamini’s uncompromising commitment to her art and her father’s unstinting support saw her blossom into one of India’s greatest Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi dancers.
In this book, Yamini describes her art as “transforming, redeeming and intoxicating” She speaks of her experience as a young girl growing up in an orthodox South Indian family, her tutelage under Rukmini Devi Arundale, her awe at watching Balasaraswati perform, her romance with Kuchipudi, till then a male bastion, and her memories of her many performances in India and abroad.
Embellished with her favourite stories from a legend and folklore, spiked with personal anecdotes and comments on changing public tastes and sensibility , this book is truly a daner’s tribute to her art:
Yamini Krishnamurti describes herself as ‘Andhra by extraction, Karnataka-born and Tamil by training.’ She was one of the most distinguished pupils of the Kalakshetra school of music and dance in Madras. She pioneered the national and international recognition of the classical dance styles of Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi and became the youngest recipient of the Padma Shri in 1968. The Tirupati Temple appointed her as ‘Asthana Nartaki’, its official dancer, the only modern instance of a temple claiming an artiste.
Renuka Khandekar is a writer for print & television. After having lived and travelled widely in Europe for two years, she chose to come back to India instead of going further west, ‘to share in the change and excitement of a restaurant place called home’. Co-authoring Yamini Krishnamurti’s life story was a two-year project that she likens to ‘participating in a great yagna or ritual sacrifice’.