Rarely does one find the coming together of art and intellect, the magic of dance and the mystery of music merging into one seamless entity, an artist whose body, mind and soul speak the unified language of dance, a dancer and social worker like Jamuna Krishnan.
A well-established and renowned Bharatanatyam dancer, choreographer, composer, scholar and teacher, Jamuna is a prominent member of the arts community in the Capital. Born in a family of artistes, her mother was a vocalist and a veena artiste, who first initiated her into classical arts.
Jamuna's passion for Bharatanatyam was nurtured by her Guru Late K.J. Govindarajan, whose seniormost disciple she remained for over 3 decades.
One of the seniormost disciples of abhinaya exponent, Padmabhushan Smt. Kalanidhi Narayanan, Jamuna's involvement with dance saw a holistic approach as she deeply immersed herself into the learning of Carnatic Classical Music under the tutelage of Late Vidwan S. Gopalakrishnan, retired chief conductor of the AIR Orchestra.
A Master's in Economics from the prestigious Delhi School of Economics, she was senior Lecturer in Economics at the Indraprastha College for Women, Delhi. Her deep interest and involvement in the classical arts prompted her to take voluntary retirement from the Delhi University and now devote all her time to practising and nurturing the classical arts.
Her learning and involvement, extending over 15 years, in music and dance took her to extensive research into the poetic works of several well known composers like Vidyapati, Surdas, Mira, Kabir, etc, thereby further enriching the traditional Bharatanatyam repertoire. For this purpose, the Ministry of Culture of the Government of India awarded a senior fellowship for her for a period of three years. She has the singular distinction of being the pioneer to incorporate regional poetry into Bharatanatyam.
With the above background, Jamuna brings to Bharatanatyam her own unique sensibility. The adaptation of North Indian Bhakti and Sringar poetry to the stringent techniques of Bharatanatyam is her singular contribution to the field of Bharatanatyam. By making the dance form more accessible and comprehensible to audiences in Northern India, Jamuna has truly rendered outstanding service to the propagation of Bharatanatyam.
The scholar in Jamuna has been revealed through many of her thought provoking and seminal research papers, each presented before her projects on Vidyapati, Ashtanayikas, presented at the Women and Culture seminar in 1980, Epiphany in Surdas' Poetry, the Murli Samvad, Radha-Krishna of Sursagar, Bramargeet, Kabir, Ramalinga Swamigal's Tiru Arutpa and on the Divyaprabandams, the 4,000 poems in praise of Lord Vishnu, composed by the 12 Azhwar saints.
She was invited several times to present her papers at the Natya Kala Conference at the Sri Krishna Gana Sabha in Chennai. She has performed at the prestigious Jhansi Mahotsav in 1992.
Travelled extensively around the world, Jamuna has performed in the United States, Canada and Europe, enthralling audiences with her innovative choreographies and her refreshing approach to the Bharatanatyam genre. She has the proud distinction of being the only artiste to be invited three times by ARTA, a theatre research organization in Paris, to conduct thematic workshops on abhinaya, which drew stupendous responses from the French Culture Ministry officials.
In addition to her credit as a performer, Jamuna is also a revered teacher of Bharatanatyam. In her capacity as a teacher for over 2 decades, Jamuna has brought to stage several well-known dancers who have now also emerged as teachers in their own right. Notable among them are Geeta Chandran, Vasanthi Sridhar, Ragini Chander Shekhar, Jai Govinda in Vancouver, Swati Bhise in New York, Pranita Jain in Chicago, Mercedes Pujol in Spain, Rasabihari in the Czech Republic, and Maria Kiran of France.
Her in-depth exploration of regional poetry has enhanced and developed the repertoire of her students who regularly perform these choreographies. Several leading dancers of other styles have also regularly worked with her to expand and enrich their repertoire with these researched works.
In recognition of her outstanding contribution to the classical arts, the Music Education Trust conferred on her the title Sangeeta Seva Nirata in 1998. In 2001, on the occasion of the 80th Birth Anniversary celebrations of the Late Padmasri Guru K. N. Dandayudhapani Pillai, Jamuna was presented with the Dandayudhapani Pillai Award 2001 for her unparalleled contribution to Bharatanatyam.
In January 2000, while commemorating the Platinum Jubilee, the Indraprastha College for Women, Delhi University, honoured Jamuna, an alumni of the college and a former professor of Economics in the college for well over 26 years, for her seminal contribution to the field of classical dance.
In March 2003, the Sahitya Kala Parishad, headed by the Chief Minister of Delhi awarded the "Parishad Samman" to Jamuna for her outstanding contribution in the field of dance.
PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry selected Jamuna as the award winner for PHDCCI Award for her Outstanding Contribution to Art, Craft and Culture 2004 by a jury chaired by Justice Shri A M Ahmadi, former Chief Justice of India. In 2005 Jamuna was conferred the prestigious ''Natya Ratna" award for attainment of excellence in the field of Bharatanatyam dance by the Sree Shanmukhananda Sangeetha Sabha. On 19 November 2007, the All India National Unity Conference, New Delhi, presented the Indira Gandhi Priyadarshini Award 2007 to Jamuna for her outstanding services, achievements and contributions to the field of arts.
As Director and Trustee of her institution Kalangan, she is personally imparting arts to the younger generation. Kalangan is now an important center in the capital where both senior and younger artistes — Carnatic musicians and Bharatanatyam dancers — have been presented to art lovers. In addition, she has about 50 young students who are currently being trained in the field of Bharatanatyam.
Kalangan has trained and completed arangetram (first public performance of the dancer) of 33 students. Kalangan has a well-equipped studio and library. She is also deeply involved with the propagation of Indian classical arts in rural areas. Spearheaded by the Project Deeksha, that involves imparting primary education to village children, she has devised novel methodologies to integrate arts with education. She has already adopted a government middle school in Gairatpur Baas Village, Haryana, where she now teaches primary art and education to the children.
Jamuna's philanthrophic vision of a beautiful Delhi finds expression in her active involvement with the cause of the physically challenged sections of our society. She has been singularly supporting the publication of "The Voice" a bi-annual journal of the Family of Disabled (FOD), and several other ventures of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of India (MSSI), "Inspiration" an organisation for mentally and physically challenged children and Udaan, a centre for destitute children.
Jamuna has the energy and enthusiasm to impart knowledge to the younger generation. She is a good organizer and has so far organized more than 180 major classical performances in the capital which won applause from art critics, etc. She is also continuing her efforts to build up this organization. With her vast performing experience, knowledge and long years of teaching, Jamuna is an invaluable member of the arts scene of our country.
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