Padma Subrahmanyam Wiki, Age, Husband, Family, Biography & More

Padma Subrahmanyam is an Indian classical dancer, teacher, singer, scholar, author, and choreographer. She is recognized as one of the leading exponents of Bharatanatyam, a classical dance form of South India. She is the founder of the art form Bharata Nrithyam. She is popular in India and abroad and has won many awards. Her letter to the Indian Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) in 2021 led to the establishment of Sengol in the new building of the Indian Parliament.

Wiki/Biography

Padma Subrahmanyam was born on Thursday, 4 February 1943 (age 80 years; as of 2023) in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India (then-Madras Presidency, British India). Her zodiac sign is Aquarius. She started learning Bharatanatyam and music at Nrithyodaya Dance School, Chennai under Kausalya.

A childhood picture of Padma Subrahmanyam

A childhood picture of Padma Subrahmanyam

She later started learning under Guru Vazhuvoor Ramaiah Pillai and gave her debut on-stage performance (Arangetram) in 1956.

A photo of Padma Subrahmanyam during her debut on-stage performance (Arangetram) in 1956

A photo of Padma Subrahmanyam during her debut on-stage performance (Arangetram) in 1956

A photo of Padma Subrahmanyam (right) during her debut on-stage performance (Arangetram)

A photo of Padma Subrahmanyam (right) during her debut on-stage performance (Arangetram)

She later learnt Adavus (basic/initial steps of Bharatanatyam) under K. N. Dhandayudapani Pillai and Abhinaya (use of expressions) under Gowri Ammal.

A childhood picture of Padma Subrahmanyam dancing

A childhood picture of Padma Subrahmanyam dancing

A photo of Padma Subrahmanyam during a dance practice session

A photo of Padma Subrahmanyam during a dance practice session

She later pursued a Bachelor’s degree in Music, a Master’s degree in Ethnomusicology at Ethiraj College For Women, Chennai, and a Doctorate at Annamalai University, Tamil Nadu with a thesis in 108 Karanas in Indian Dance & Sculpture, mainly Natya Sastra; she did her research under the guidance of Padma Bhushan recipient and noted archaeologist, Dr T.N. Ramachandran. She also learnt music under the classical singer B.V. Lakshmanan and music director Salil Chowdhury.

A photo of Padma Subrahmanyam during her convocation ceremony

A photo of Padma Subrahmanyam during her convocation ceremony

Physical Appearance

Height (approx.): 5′ 8″

Weight (approx.): 65 kg

Hair Colour: Black

Eye Colour: Black

Padma Subrahmanyam physical appearance

Family & Caste

She was born into a traditional affluent Hindu Brahmin family.

Parents & Siblings

Her father, Krishnaswami Subrahmanyam, was a noted director, freedom fighter, and founder of Nrithyodaya Dance School. Her mother, Meenakshi Subrahmanyam, was a music composer, a lyricist in Sanskrit and Tamil and an instrumentalist who played Veena, Violin, and Harmonium.

Padma Subrahmanyam with her father, Krishnaswami Subrahmanyam, and mother, Meenakshi Subrahmanyam

Padma Subrahmanyam with her father, Krishnaswami Subrahmanyam, and mother, Meenakshi Subrahmanyam

She has two elder brothers named S. Krishnaswamy and V. Balakrishnan, both of them are film directors.

Padma Subrahmanyam (right) with her brother, V. Balakrishnan, and her sister-in-law, Shymala Balakrishnan

Padma Subrahmanyam (right) with her brother, V. Balakrishnan, and her sister-in-law, Shymala Balakrishnan

Husband & Children

She never married and has no children.

Other Relatives

Her sister-in-law’s names are Shyamala Balakrishnan and Mohana Krishnaswamy. She has two nephews named Raghuram and B. Kannan and two nieces named Lata and Gita. She has two grand-nephews named Hrishikesh and Anirudh Ravichander and a grandniece named Gayathri Raghuram.

A family photo of Padma Subrahmanyam

A family photo of Padma Subrahmanyam

Religion

She follows Hinduism.

Signature

Padma Subrahmanyam's signature

108 Karanas of Natya Sastra

Padma Subrahmanyam was assisting her brother Balakrishnan with researching a film about temples when she unexpectedly came across dance sculptures called karanas, which beautifully portray the teachings of the Natya Sastra texts. This discovery sparked her curiosity, leading her on a fascinating journey into the world of dance sculpture.

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A photo of Padma Subrahmanyam during her trip to a temple

A photo of Padma Subrahmanyam during her trip to a temple

She eagerly read books written by respected scholars like Ananda Coomaraswamy, T. N. Ramachandran, and C. Sivaramamurti. She focused her research on ‘Karanas in Indian dance and sculpture’ found in the temples of Chidambaram, Thanjavur, and Kumbakonam. Through her diligent research, she learned that the 108 Karanas are not just still poses, but lively movements.

A photo of Padma Subrahmanyam with a elephant at a temple premise

A photo of Padma Subrahmanyam with an elephant at a temple premise

She studied literature, sculptures, and inscriptions, and drew from her own experiences as a dancer to recreate these movements. Padma’s significant work has revealed the unity of all Indian dances as described in the Natya Sastra. She conducts workshops and camps on this topic, and her creative skills extend to designing beautiful hairstyles, costumes, and jewellery that enhance the captivating Karanas.

A photo of Padma Subrahmanyam (centre) with her family members during a visit to a temple

A photo of Padma Subrahmanyam (centre) with her family members during a visit to a temple

Music & Choreographer

As an accomplished dancer and choreographer, she has showcased her artistic brilliance through a diverse array of solo and group presentations. These include captivating dance dramas such as Meenakshi Kalyanam, Viralimalai Kuravanji, Valli Kalyanam, Silappadikaram, Krishna Tulabaram, Parijata Aharanam, Nagarukku Appal, Geetanjali, Shyama, Sri Gurave Namaha, Pavai Nombu, and a special performance of Vande Mataram, paying homage to India’s Golden Jubilee of Independence.

A photo of Padma Subrahmanyam during a dance performance

A photo of Padma Subrahmanyam during a dance performance

Padma Subrahmanyam during a dance performance

Padma Subrahmanyam during a dance performance

Her remarkable creativity lies in her ability to expand the dance technique, employing the entire body to execute graceful leaps, leg extensions, and swift footwork, thereby enhancing intricate rhythms. She has revived the Banika style of mono-acting, presenting enthralling productions such as Krishnaya Tubhyam Namaha, Ramaya Tubhyam Namaha, Jaya Jaya Sankara, and others. Padma’s dedication to her craft has earned her recognition as an esteemed artist in the field of dance.

Padma Subrahmanyam (centre) with other dancers

Padma Subrahmanyam (centre) with other dancers

A photo of Padma Subrahmanyam (second from right) during a dance performance

A photo of Padma Subrahmanyam (second from right) during a dance performance

Singer & Composer

Since her early years, she has displayed a natural talent for singing in various Indian and foreign languages. Together with her sister-in-law Shyamala Balakrishnan, she has contributed to several albums, including ‘Folk Music of Tamilnadu,’ ‘Krishna Tulabharam,’ ‘Nritya Margam,’ ‘Natana Sivanjali,’ and ‘Saivappamalai.’ In a separate album titled ‘Gita Govindam,’ she has beautifully rendered Jayadeva’s Ashtapadis.

Padma Subrahmanyam with her singing partner, Shyamala Balakrishnan (left)

Padma Subrahmanyam with her singing partner, Shyamala Balakrishnan (left)

She lent her voice to the dance performances of her disciples, and she has sung alongside Dr Gayatri Kannan, her nephew’s wife, as a co-singer.

Padma Subrahmanyam with Gayathri Kannan (left) and L. Murugashankari (right)

Padma Subrahmanyam with Gayathri Kannan (left) and L. Murugashankari (right)

In addition to creating numerous individual compositions, she has composed the music for most of her productions. Notably, she utilized a multinational orchestra for the music in a couple of dance dramas commissioned by the Singapore Government.

 

She pioneered the inclusion of Pushpanjali as a dance piece, setting a new precedent in the dance community. She holds the distinction of being the first dancer to adapt a meera bhajan to suit the grammar of Pada Varnam. Padma’s innovation extends to composing the first Bengali Varnam, with lyrics penned by Salil Chaudhry.

Padma Subrahmanyam (standing, third from right) with her singing group and foreign dignitaries

Padma Subrahmanyam (standing, third from right) with her singing group and foreign dignitaries

Guru/Teacher

Padma started teaching at Nrithyodaya Dance School, Chennai at the age of fourteen and went on to become its Director.

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Padma Subrahmanyam during a teaching session at Nrithyodaya Dance School, Chennai

Padma Subrahmanyam during a teaching session at Nrithyodaya Dance School, Chennai

She has evolved a new pedagogy for body training, based on her study of ‘Natya Sastra’ of Bharatamuni. Her disciples get a holistic view of the various aspects of dance art – practical, theoretical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual. She has trained several dancers, teachers as well as musicians for accompanying dance including ‘Nattuvangam’ artists.

Padma Subrahmanyam (right) giving a certificate to a student of Nrithodaya Dance School

Padma Subrahmanyam (right) giving a certificate to a student of Nrithodaya Dance School

Statues at Nataraja Temple, Satara, Maharashtra

Padma received a divine ordination from the revered Centenarian Sage, Pujyasri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati Swamigal (also known as the Sage of Kanchi), the 68th Jagadguru Sankaracharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam. As per his instructions, she undertook the design of a new collection of 108 Karana sculptures of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati in black granite for a recently constructed temple of Lord Nataraja in Satara, Maharashtra. These sculptures aimed to capture the movements of the Karanas that were not found in the older temples of Thanjavur, Kumbakonam, and Chidambaram in Tamil Nadu.

Entrance of Nataraja Temple, Satara

Entrance of Nataraja Temple, Satara

Utilizing the twin figures of Shiva and Parvati, she skillfully infused life into each Karana movement. Twelve years later, she encountered a remarkable discovery with the guidance of the Sage of Kanchi. She found about fifty Karana sculptures at the famous Prambanan temple complex in Central Java, Indonesia, dating back to the 9th century AD.

Carvings designed by Padma Subrahmanyam in the Nataraja Temple, Satara

Carvings designed by Padma Subrahmanyam in the Nataraja Temple, Satara

These sculptures not only validated Padma’s practical reconstruction of the Karanas but also exhibited striking similarities to her own designs for the Satara temple. This extraordinary connection transcending time and space has been documented in a book authored by Dr Alessandra, an Italian archaeologist who conducted her Post-Doctoral research under Padma’s guidance, supported by the British Academy in London.

One of the carvings designed by Padma Subrahmanyam in the Nataraja Temple, Satara

One of the carvings designed by Padma Subrahmanyam in the Nataraja Temple, Satara

Bharata Nrithyam Artform

Padma holds the distinction of rediscovering the ancient and foundational artistic principles of ‘Marga,’ which was the path established by Sage Bharata. Similar to how Sanskrit coexisted with regional languages, Marga had coexisted with other Indian styles until around five centuries ago. Through her diligent research and exploration, she has successfully revived this Marga technique, which encompasses the entire Indian subcontinent and extends to other Asian regions as well.

Padma Subrahmanyam practicing Bharata Nrithyam

Padma Subrahmanyam practising Bharata Nrithyam

Reflecting on her findings, she proudly presents her performances under the banner of ‘Bharata Nrithyam.’ Remarkably, Padma has applied this communication technique and language to choreographing Bharata Nrithyam recitals in various regional languages, including Tamil, Kashmiri, Hindi, Bengali, Oriya, Marathi, Kannada, Telugu, and Malayalam. She has skillfully employed songs from foreign languages to showcase the expressive art of ‘Abhinaya.’

A photo of Padma Subrahmanyam practicing Bharata Nrithyam

A photo of Padma Subrahmanyam practising Bharata Nrithyam

The Sengol Connection

Her name got viral in the country in 2023 when the Indian government decided that Sengol would be handed over to the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the inauguration of the new Parliament building on 28 May 2023.

A collage of India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru holding Sengol (below) and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi being presented Sengol during the inauguration of new building of Indian Parliament

A collage of India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru holding Sengol (below) and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi being presented Sengol during the inauguration of the new building of the Indian Parliament

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Reportedly, In 2021, she wrote a letter to Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) in which she quoted the article written in the Tamil magazine Thuglak. She translated the article into English and mentioned that when India got its independence in 1947, Sengol was handed over to the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru.

Padma Subrahmanyam wrote letter to PMO for Sengol

Padma Subrahmanyam wrote a letter to PMO for Sengol

She also wrote about the details of the small function during which the Sengol was handed over to Nehru. She talked about the article originally published in Tughlaq magazine and said,

It was an article in Tamil that was published in Thuglak magazine. I was very attracted to the content of the article, which was about Sengol. It was about how Chandrasekharendra Saraswati told his disciple Dr Subramaniam about the Sengol (in 1978), who wrote about it in his books. The Sengol, in Tamil culture, has great significance. The umbrella, the Sengol, and the throne are the three objects which actually give you the concept of the reigning power of the king. The Sengol is the symbol of power, of justice. It is not just something that came from 1,000 years ago. It is also mentioned in the Tamil epic, in regards to Chera kings.”

Sengol established in the new Indian Parliament buidling while Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks

Sengol established in the new Indian Parliament building while Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks

Publications by Padma Subrahmanyam

She has written many research papers, books, and pieces in magazines and newspapers. Her publications include ‘Bharata’s Art: Then & Now,’ ‘Bharatakkalai Kotpadu’ (a Tamil textbook), ‘Natya Sastra & National Unity,’ ‘Kanchi Mahaswami’s Vision of Asian Culture,’ ‘Valluvarum Vedaneriyum,’ ‘Bhagavat Gita for Dance,’ ‘Legacy of a Legend’ (a compilation of her articles),’ ‘Karanas – Common Dance Codes of India & Indonesia’ (3 volumes), and children’s books such as ‘Epic Stories from Natya Sastra’ and ‘Natya Sastra Itihasa Kadhaigal’ (in Tamil). She also wrote the script, composed music, and starred in the telefilm Bharatiya Natya Sastra.

Padma Subrahmanyam's book, Natya Sastra and National Unity

Padma Subrahmanyam’s book, Natya Sastra and National Unity

Padma Subrahmanyam's DVD Bhagavad Gita

Padma Subrahmanyam’s DVD Bhagavad Gita

Publications in her Tribute

Padma’s life and contributions are beautifully captured in the Tamil biography ‘Padma Subrahmanyam Oru Sagaptam’ written by Sundari Santhanam. Additionally, Chamundeswari has explored her remarkable journey and impact in the field of dance through her Master’s Degree dissertation in Sociology. Her extraordinary talent and achievements have been recognized globally through various film productions.

A video made on Padma Subrahmanyam

A video made on Padma Subrahmanyam

‘Queen of Dance’ is a film produced by Russia, while ‘Padma’ has been produced by Film Australia and the Films Division of the Government of India. Additionally, NHK, Japan has created a film about her as part of their prestigious ‘Asia’s Who is Who’ series, showcasing her contributions to the world of dance. Dr Christopher Byrski, formerly of Warsaw University, Poland, and later the Ambassador of Poland in India, has paid tribute to Dr Padma by dedicating his research publication titled ‘Concept of Ancient Indian Theatre’ to her.

Padma Subrahmanyam (left) on the cover of Sruti magazine

Padma Subrahmanyam (left) on the cover of Sruti magazine

Categories: Biography
Source: dienchau2.edu.vn

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