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Soorya (Singapore)presents

The legend Padmashri Chitra Visweswaran presenting her famous dance production


(An Ethereal Experience) with 6 Dancers

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Time : 7:00 PM

Venue : Jubilee Hall , Raffles Hotel

Padmashri Chitra Visweswaran
Padmashri Chitra Visweswaran
Padmashri Chitra Visweswaran
Padmashri Chitra Visweswaran

Anubhuti - An experience in the Maargam format with 7 dancers - Concept and Choreography : Padmashri Chitra Visweswaran

Anubuthi was created at the at the instance of the Opera of France, which invited Smt Chitra Visweswaran to choreograph a production conceived on the foundation of the traditional margam format of Bharatanatyam. Kinetics of space, architectonical layers of interpretation, bordering on the unexpected, aesthetics of form, sound and content, have been explored to push the boundaries of conventional Bharatanatyam choreography.

Commencing with the celebration of the Hindu Trinity, representing the Cosmic acts of creation, preservation and destruction, Anubuthi goes on to unravel the mystic philosophy of Ardhanareeshwara / Ardhanareewshari, the multi moods of the multifaceted Shakti, engages with the search and realization of the Divine - Krishna and culminates in a mood of Ananda - bliss experienced through dance and music - Thillana.

Anubhuti has toured Germany, France, Luxembourg and Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Trivandrum and Madurai in India.

The Doyen and Legend of dance Padmashri Chitra Visweswaran

"Dance is a prayer. It has given me the courage to face several challenges in life," said danseuse Chitra Visweswaran at the valedictory of the 73rd music conference and festival of the Indian Fine Arts Society. Ms. Visweswaran was addressing rasikas after she was conferred `Natya Kalasikhamani' award by the Indian Fine Arts Society in Chennai in 2006.

"Honouring Chitra is honouring dance itself. She lives for dance. Her dedication is tremendous," said Ms. Sarasa.

"Dance is something beyond physical movements. Rasanubhava is the essence and purpose of dance and one can find it in abundance in Chitra's performances. She makes you cry with joy," said Ms. Raghupathy.

The danseuse is lauded for introducing commentary before a recital.

Somewhere along the way Chitra dropped the concept of dancers dressing up in the aharya or costume in accordance with the character she / he played; for, to suggest a character through mime, gesture and stance was more demanding and challenging than in playing the character in the expected costume.

Chitra Visweswaran

Chitra Visweswaran is amongst the leading classical dancers of India. Apart from being a marvellous dancer, she is a brilliant choreographer and an amazing teacher. She started her own dance institution with the help of her husband R. Viswesaran, called 'Chidambaram Academy of Performing Arts' in Chennai, in 1975. She has provided immense support and encouragement to the Indian classical dances across the world. Chitra has given astonishing dance performances in almost all the major dance festivals of India and has participated in foreign shows regularly. Chitra has made great contribution to the field of dance through her experimentation and innovations in the Bharatanatyam.

Early Life

Chitra Padmanabhan had an inherent talent of dancing right from her childhood, which she gained from her mother Smt. Rukmini Padmanabhan who herself was an outstanding classical dancer, while her father Shri N. Padmanabhan was a railway engineer. Chitra started dance at a very tender age of three and the first teacher was her mother. She got married to an artist R. Viswesaran, who is a composer, vocalist and a Santoor player. He is the nephew of the famous Carnatic musician, G.N. Balasubramanian and adherent of Santoor maestro Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma.

Dance Career

Chitra, at the age of ten, started taking her lessons in Bharatnatyam from one of the devdasis of Tiruvidaimardur, Smt T. A. Rajalakshmi, who was in Calcutta (Kolkata) and there she took the training for about ten years. Along with this, she also learnt Manipuri and Kathak. At the age of 11, Chitra choreographed her dance under the guidance of Rajalaksmi. Later on, she took training of Western Classical Ballet in London. She gave her first dance performance (Arangetram) in ten months of the learning, which was a great achievement. Besides taking lessons of Bharatnatyam in Calcutta, she was also studying in Uday Shankar School of Dance. In 1970, Chitra completed her graduation in B.A. (Hons.) in English from Calcutta University. She was honored with the National Scholarship for advanced study in Bharatnatyam from the Government of India. At that time, only two scholarships were awarded all over the country and she was one of the recipients.

After getting the scholarship, Chitra took training from the great and notable Bharatnatyam dancer and teacher Vazhuvoor Ramaiah Pillai, in Chennai. She received an excellent training from all her Gurus and it helped in expanding her artistic visualization. Chitra started working on her own after completing her scholarship. She, with her immense knowledge of dancing, became a great Indian classical dancer and a teacher.

Dance Choreography

Chitra's first piece of dance choreography was at the age of eleven. At thirteen, she had choreographed the life of Saint Thyagaraja in the format of a Varnam, the most demanding of pieces in the Bharatanatyam repertoire. Several such pieces of choreography followed even as she studied contemporary dance in parallel to her Bharatanatyam training. During this period, she choreographed individual pieces and short thematic presentations. Though she wanted to leave Calcutta for Madras (or Chennai as it is called now) in order to pursue dance seriously on finishing school, her parents insisted on her completing an honors degree (B.A. in English). Thanks to the frequent closures of Calcutta University, she fruitfully spent her time studying dance theory and dance history entirely on her own and also became involved in interdisciplinary search and research.

In 1970, she received the National Scholarship for advanced study in Bharatanatyam from the Ministry of Human Resources Development, Government of India, at a time when only two scholarships were awarded throughout the country, as against twenty-five, today.

She spent her scholarship period of four years under the doyen of Bharatanatyam, Vazhuvoor Ramaiyya Pillai. Her experience as his sishya widened her aesthetic vision even as her earlier Gurus' training gave her excellent grammar and technique. Within three months of joining Vazhuvoor Ramaiyya Pillai, her guru introduced Chitra to the Madras audience by promoting her over all his other students as the heroine of a dance drama, Thirumalai Kumaresa Kuravanji, which her guru had choreographed. Eminent people such as Prof. Sambhamoorthy,Kapila Vatsyaya and Sunil Kothari even then noted her work.

On completion of her scholarship, Chitra started working on her own, combining the lessons she had learnt from her Gurus and her knowledge of the cognate forms of arts, harnessing to it a scholastic approach and holistic vision in order to develop a wholly individualistic philosophy of movement and language of communication.

Chitra started teaching dance at Calcutta at the age of sixteen, but it was in 1975 that she established "Chidambaram Academy of Performing Arts" (CAPA) in Chennai, now an acknowledged premier institution in India. Since its inception, she has extended its repertoire with several pieces culled through research, which has earned her a very strong and supportive following. Even as her institution grew, she slowly tried her hand in group performance choreography in which her earlier experience of the Bengal School helped her substantially.

Dance Productions

In 1980, Chitra choreographed her first major dance drama Devi Ashta Rasa Malika which took Chennai by storm. The concept of group formations, which was hitherto comparatively unknown in Bharatanatyam, took firm root in this genre through this production.

Several solo thematic and group productions in the Bharatanatyam format followed. A few examples in solo are:

Krishnanjali - a solo thematic presentation, wherein the concept of flashback was first introduced.

Purandara Krishnamritham - in which rare Kritis of the Kannada saint-poet, Purandaradasa were researched and strung together thematically.

Saptha Sapthi - a solo production exploring seven aspects of the number seven

Sthree Sakthi- a saga of Indian women from Sita to Jhansi Ki Rani.

Viswam Vishnumayam, Naveena Niroopanna, Sadaa Venkatesa Smarami are other notable. productions

Her group productions, which followed Devi Ashta Rasa Malika, were several. One of these discovered the parallels in poetry and approach to bhakti of the South Indian Saint poetess Andal, with that of the Mewari princess Meera.

The Ramayana with just one Sanskrit kriti to harness it musically, which was incidentally also translated into Tamil, is another popular production.

Devaki Pulambal took on a different view point - that of Devaki, Krishna's natural mother, instead of the much presented Yashodha.

Somewhere along the way Chitra dropped the concept of dancers dressing up in the aharya or costume in accordance with the character she / he played; for, to suggest a character through mime, gesture and stance was more demanding and challenging than in playing the character in the expected costume.

Her vision further widened when the National Academy of Sciences commissioned her to present a production on the river Ganges in 1989-90, not highlighting the religious connotation of the river, but presenting it as representative of the ethos of India. She took six months off to research this project and to this day feels that this experience contributed considerably to her evolution as a thinking dancer.

Mary Magdalena, Maithreem Bhajatha and other productions that followed, brought in different and varied thrusts.


Chitra has been regularly featured in the National Program of Dance, local programs of Doordarshan and other Indian channels. Her dance has also been telecast by Television in Sydney (Mike Walsh show), Singapore Broadcasting Corporation, BBC Television, U.K, Portugal TV, French TV, Swiss TV, U.S. TV, Malaysian TV. On the occasion of India's 50th year of Independence, BBC invited her to present a specially choreographed program at the Symphony Hall, Birmingham that was telecast internationally on 15 August 1997. Chidambaram Academy of Performing Arts Her institution CAPA has grown extensively and has satellite institutions all over the world headed by present and past students. In order to maintain exclusive quality, admission is highly selective and restricted. The holistic approach of CAPA has led to several national and international scholarships and fellowships being awarded to its students. Here dance, music, nattuvangam, theory, stagecraft, lighting, teaching methodology, philosophy of movement and a deep study of the cognate art forms is stressed upon. Besides drawing great joy of sharing her knowledge with all those who desire it, Chitra now has an added motive in her life - to collect funds for RASA, an institution using creative dance and music therapy for special children with learning disabilities.

Chitra has performed in all major dance festivals in India and has made several tours abroad, dancing in the U.K, France, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Sweden, Switzerland, Italy, Bulgaria, Portugal, USA, Canada, USSR, Australia, Austria, Fiji Islands, Singapore, Malaysia, Kuwait, Muscat, Bahrain, Dubai, Qatar, Holland, Srilanka amongst other countries. Her dance and lecture - demonstrations have been documented for reference by various institutions and universities.

Awards and Distinctions

In 1980, Sri Krishna Gana Sabha awarded the "Nritya Choodamani" to Chitra. As an awardee, she convened the Sabha's Natya Kala conference in 1996 & 97, the only dance seminar of its kind in India. She is a Trustee of India Foundation for the Arts, a Ford foundation activated project and is also a member of the committee constituted by the Government of India for selection of candidates for award of scholarships and fellowships in Bharatanatyam. Chitra was the only dancer invited by the University of Madras to occupy the Rabindranath Tagore Chair in Fine Arts. She is also a member of the General Council and Executive Board of the Central Sangeet Natak Akademi (the apex body of Performing Arts in India).

In recognition of her contribution to Bharathanatyam, the Government of Tamil Nadu conferred the title, "Kalaimamani" upon her in 1982. She received the "Central Sangeet Natak Akademi Award" in 1987 and the "Padma Shri" from the President of India in 1992. In addition, in India's 50th year of Independence she was awarded the titles of "Mahila Shiromani" (honoring distinguished women of Indian origin) and "Sthree Ratna" (gem amongst women - awarded to fifty eminent Indian women). Her other awards include Nritya Vilas - Sur Singar Samsad, Bombay, 1988; Manav Sewa Puraskar - Institute of economic studies, 1992 (Lok Shree Award, New Delhi); Natanamani - Kanchi Paramacharya in 1999.

Under the scheme of inviting a personality whose contribution to Indian Culture has been outstanding, The Japan Foundation invited Chitra Visweswaran to be their special guest for the year 2000.

Chitra Visweswaran is the 2013's recipient of the Music Academy's Natya Kala Acharya Award for Dance.The award was conferred on Chitra Visweswaran on January 3, 2014, at the inaugural of the Music Academy's Annual Dance Festival.

Chitra's husband, late Sri R.Visweswaran, nephew of the legendary Carnatic musician, G.N Balasubramaniam was a vocalist, instrumentalist and composer and had a long experience of working in the genre of film music. He played the Kashmir Santoor, veena and was a self-taught Flamenco guitarist. His knowledge and experience came together in composing and directing great music for Chitra's solo work and group productions, for which he also lend his voice. Together they were considered a contributive force to be reckoned with in the field of Classical Indian Dance.

"My husband Visweswaran equally deserves all the awards I have received. His cooperation is not merely about supporting a dancer; it is also about being part of my exploration. I would wake him up at 2 in the morning and ask him to compose a piece and he would do it so enthusiastically," Chitra Visweswaran.


Arupa Lahiry, a disciple of Padmashri Smt. Chitra Visweswaran is a Senior Scholarship recipient from the Department of Culture, Government of India. Arupa has given solo recitals at major festivals and sabhas, nationally and internationally, which include names like Living Arts Centre, Canada; Madras Music Academy, 'Spirit Of Youth' Series; Chennai; Soorya Festival, Trivandrum; Swami Haridas Sammelan, Mumbai; 4th Devadasi National Festival, Bhubaneswar, Orissa, Prakjyoti Festival, Assam; Natyanjali Dance Festivals: Chidambaram, Thanjavur & Kumbakonnam; besides being a regularly featured artist at Neemrana Music Foundation, India.

Arupa, along with her guru, Smt. Chitra Visweswaran as part of Chidambaram Dance Company , has participated in major productions like Dwarkanatham Bhaje; Nirantaraha; Skanda Margam; Nritya Srinkhala; Raghuvamsa Thillakam. Arupa has also accompanied her guru for various lecture-demonstrations and workshops, Arupa's awards and accolades include titles like 'Singar Mani' from Sur Singar Samsad, Mumbai, 2010 & Shikar Samman from National Hindi Parishad, 2005. Arupa has choreographed a tele-series on national television and has been featured in Tabla maestro Tanmoy Bose's music album.

Arupa was part of Chidambaram Dande Company 2 which performed the choreographies of Smt Chitra Visweswaran (Anubuthi) at the Opera of France Lille in 2011 and the subsequent tour of Europe in 2013.

Sai Santhosh Radhakrishnan

Sai Santhosh is a disciple of legendary Adayar K. Lakshman and Smt. Deepa Baba Prasad at their institution Bharathachoodamani Academy of Fine Arts. A talented male Bharatanatyam dancer, instructor and choreographer, Sai Santhosh has proved himself to be a youngster worth following . Much in demand he has had the privilege of participating in the productions of legendary giants such as Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam, Smt. ChitraVisveshwaran Prof.Sudharani Raghupathy Ms.Leela Samson , Smt.Radha , Dhananjayans & Vempatti Shri Chinna Sathyam.

He has toured all over India and Abroad in this capacity .He has received many awards amongst which are 'Yuva Kala Bharathi' from Bharath Kalachar , "Best Dancer" award from Indian fine arts society "NatyaYuva Bhushan" and the prestigious Cleveland Thyagaraja Aradhana International Competition (USA) prize . Sai Santhosh is a also a promising young solo dancer who has captivated audiences through his dynamic performances.

Sai Santhosh was part of Chidambaram Dande Company 2 which performed the choreographies of Smt Chitra Visweswaran (Anubuthi) in a tour of Europe in 2013 and in several venues in India.


Dance is a passion beyond expression in words for Jai Quehaeni. Jai Quehaeni , who's name has been derived from that of a queen has been a natural dancer and started taking lesson at a very young age had her arangetram (debut performances) when she was 11 years old . Subsequently Quehaeni was blessed to take up specialized training under the watchful eyes of her present Guru Padmashri Smt.Chitra Visweswaran who nurtured her talent and is helping her grow in the field of Bharathanatyam.Quehaeni has performed in most of the major sabhas (organisation promoting Indian & Music) in Chennai and has also performed all over India.She has been a part of most of her Guru's productions since she joined Chidambram Academy Of Performing Arts. She has also been encouraged and appreciated by a number of well known newspapers and she has to her credit the Award given by Krishna Gana Saba for her outstanding performance. Jai Quehaeni was part of Chidambaram Dande Company 2 which performed the choreographies of Smt Chitra Visweswaran (Anubuthi) at the Opera of France Lille in 2011 and the subsequent tour of Europe in 2013.

Jai Quehaeni has already made a mark as an actor being part of the critically acclaimed film Aarohanam.

Gayathri Rajaji

Gayathri Rajaji, a disciple of Guru.Adyar.K.Lakshman, is a serious practitioner of Bharatanatyam with unrelenting passion for the great art form .Wanting to take up this art form seriously, she is pursuing a bachelors degree in Indian Music from the Madras University and also trains in nattuvangam, abhinaya, carnatic vocal , veena and dance theory through private classes from eminent teachers.

After her arangetram in August 2008, she has been a regular performer in various esteemed sabhas like Natyarangam , Kartik fine arts, Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha, Indian fine arts, Thyaga Brahma Gana Sabha to name a few. She received the best dancer award from the Indian Fine Arts for the year 2012. A recipient of Scholarship under the Talent Promotion Scheme of the Iyal Isai NatakaMandram of Tamil Nadu, she is also a 'B' graded artist from the Doordarshan, Chennai. She was awarded the title 'Nrityasree' from the Utkal Yuva Sanksrutik sangh, Orissa.She is now working in productions of senior Gurus .Prof. Sudharani Raghupathy and Smt Chitra Visweswaran.

Gayathri Rajaji was part of Chidambaram Dande Company 2 which performed the choreographies of Smt Chitra Visweswaran (Anubuthi) in a tour of Europe in 2013 and in several venues in India

Divya Shruthi

Divya Shruthi started learning Bharatanatyam at the tender age of six. Her keen interest in Bharatanatyam and her quest to learn the art form in depth, brought her under the tutelage of the renowned Chitra Visweswaran, where she cherishes her training under her at Chidambaram Academy of Performing Arts.

A young committed aspiring dancer she is a regular participant in the professional presentations of the institutions repertory Chidambaram Dance Company , wherein she has participated in Raghuvansa Tilakam, Kolaru Pathigam , Kondattam , Nritya Pravaaha, Sapta Sapti to name a few . She has travelled nationally and internationally in this capacity and has been noted as one of the excellent dancers of her generation.

Divya Shruthi was part of Chidambaram Dande Company 2 which performed the choreographies of Smt Chitra Visweswaran (Anubuthi) in a tour of Europe in 2013 and in several venues in India

Sharmada Viswanathan

Sharmada started learning Bharatanatyam at the age of seven at the Chidambaram Academy of Performing Arts under the tutelage of Kalaimamani Smt Chitra Visweswaran, Padma Shri awardee. Her commitment and sincerity to dance has kept her in good stead with her Guru and the school.

Hailing from the family of Mahakavi Subramaniya Bharatiyar [Sharmada's great grand uncle], she has grown up amidst music and dance. Her grandmother Smt. Rajam Subramanian composes music for dance and her aunt Smt. Ramaa Ramesh, a senior disciple of Smt Chitra Visweswaran, runs her own dance school in Philadelphia, USA.

A school topper in junior and high school, she was adjudged the best outgoing student. She has had varied interests since childhood, with a keen eye for music and art. She is currently pursuing Carnatic Violin lessons from Mrs. Padma Shankar, . Sharmada's drawings, paintings and sketches have also won her laurels in various competitions.

She also plays tennis and takes active interest in fitness related activities.

Sharmada was part of Chidambaram Dande Company 2 which performed the choreographies of Smt Chitra Visweswaran (Anubuthi) in a tour of Europe in 2013 and in several venues in India.

Reviews of Anubhuti

Padmashri Chitra Visweswaran
Padmashri Chitra Visweswaran
Padmashri Chitra Visweswaran
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