12 Facts About Balasaraswati


Tanjore Balasaraswati, known as Balasaraswati, was an Indian dancer, and her rendering of Bharatanatyam, a classical dance style originated in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, made this style of dancing well known in different parts of India and many parts of the world.


Balasaraswati was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1957 and the Padma Vibhushan in 1977, the third and the second highest civilian honours given by the Government of India.


Balasaraswati was a seventh generation representative of a traditional matrilineal family of temple musicians and dancers, who have been described as the greatest single repository of the traditional performing arts of music and dance of the southern region of India.


Balasaraswati's ancestor, Papammal, was a musician and dancer patronized in the mid-eighteenth century by the court of Thanjavur.


Balasaraswati's mother, Jayammal was a singer who encouraged the training of Balasaraswati and was her accompanist.


Balasaraswati created a revolution in traditional music and dance for bharata natyam, a combination of the performance arts of music and dance.


Balasaraswati learned music within the family from her infancy, and her rigorous training in dance was begun when she was four under the distinguished dance teacher K Kandappan Pillai, a member of the famed Thanjavur Nattuvanar family.


Balasaraswati was the first performer of her traditional style outside of South India, performing first in Calcutta in 1934.


Balasaraswati went on to a global career that attracted international critical attention and the respect of dance greats such as Shambhu Maharaj, Dame Margot Fonteyn, Martha Graham, and Merce Cunningham.


Balasaraswati, encouraged by an administrator at the Music Academy in Madras, established a dance school in association with the institution.


Balasaraswati received numerous awards in India, including the President's Award from the Sangeet Natak Akademi, Padma Vibhushan from the Government of India for distinguished national service and Sangita Kalanidhi from the Madras Music Academy, South India's highest award for musicians.


Balasaraswati was the only non-western dancer included in a compilation of the Dance Heritage Coalition, "America's Irreplaceable Dance Treasures: The First 100".