It is indeed strange that one belonging to the traditional Bhagavathulu family, born in Kuchipudi village of Andhra Pradesh, should make Chennai his home for learning Bharathanatyam in Kalakshetra. “I was fascinated by the excellence in nritta and bhava enunciated by Dr. Rukmani Devi Arundale, hence my choice was Bharathanatyam,” avers this enthusiastic artist — an acclaimed ‘A’ grade top dance artist and musician.
J. Suryanarayanamurthy, who received his post graduate degree in Bharathanatyam from Kalakshetra joined Dhananjayans' for initial practical training and learnt music from Government Music College, Chennai to secure the Isai Kalai Mani title.
A versatile linguist, he studied Indian Arts in Nalanda Arts Centre, Mumbai, simultaneously receiving a diploma with distinction in Indian culture from Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. He holds a masters degree in Arts from Mysore University, another masters in Philosophy and is currently pursuing his doctorate from the University of Madras.
The winner of numerous awards, he was selected the best male dancer in a competition held at Narada Gana Sabha. A globetrotter he has performed in the USA, former Soviet Republic, Germany, UK, Canada, Belgium, etc., apart from countries in South East Asia.
What is astonishing is that, while continuing his faculty position at Kalakshetra, Suryanarayanamurthy has produced thematic dance programmes based on Thirumurai and specializes in choreography and various theatrical dance dramas including dramas on Maha Ganapathy, Andal, Seetharama Kalyanam, etc. Dancing has become an integral part of my life and imparting training in Kalakshetra is an exclusive experience in itself, says the dancer.
Recently, I saw this dancer's marvellous performance of 'Sri Vijayagopala' for the programme 'Satyam, Sivam, Sundaram', the presentation choreographed by him, revealing the enchanting story of Sri Krishna from his childhood exploits to his Viswaroopa Darshanam to Arjuna. As a teacher, performer, Suryanarayanamurthy combines in his choreography, the best of tradition, with a creative touch, his art known for its classical purity in Kalakshetra's style and deep emotive quality.
He concludes his conversation with a positive note, “I have realized that in this field, nothing but hard work, concentration and dedication pays. Of course, the grace of divinity goes hand in hand and my prime wish is that I get impregnated in the minds of rasikas and as an idol dancer of high ethical values, says Suryanarayanamurthy, who holds dance maestros, Dhananjayan's whose gurukula type of training attracted him and C.V. Chandrasekar in high esteem.
(The writer is a well known music critic who has won awards both in India and abroad for propagation of classical arts and music)