An excerpt from a Khanda Padya portraying a Pragalbha Nayika, by the legendary Vidushi Venkatalakshamma, one of the last dancers of the Mysore Palace. These Padyas were common before a Padam or a Javali in the Mysore style of Bharatanatyam and in Kuchipudi. ☺️🙏

What grace!
Venkatalakshamma (1906-2002) was a disciple of the famous Jatti Thayamma of the Mysore Palace. Well-read in Kannada, Telugu and Sanskrit, she was a wonderful exponent of Abhinaya. She was honoured with the @sangeetnatak award and the Padma Bhushan.

Venkatalakshamma's Guru Jatti Thayamma (1857-1947), came from a family of wrestlers. She was not a Devadasi, as rumoured later!

We have less information on whom she learnt dance from. But we know she debuted when she was 15 years old. She developed the Mysore Bani of BN.
Her father Dasappa migrated from coastal Andhra and to Mysore. He was a wrestler. While in Andhra, he learnt music. He was her first teacher. The language at home was Telugu. After migrating to Mysore, he found the patronage of Maharaja Mummadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar (1794-1868).
The Maharaja was a great scholar and patron of arts!

In the court of Mysore, Dasappa sought the mentorship of Vidwans Karibasappa Shastri and Kavishwara Giriappa. Thayamma learnt Abhinaya from them. She also mastered Sanskrit from Vidwan Sringeri Subramanya Shastri.
Thayamma's contemporary was the great musician and composer Vidwan Mysore Vasudevacharya (1965- 1961) It is said he even composed a piece called 'Vamanastotra' in her honour.
Thayamma married Jatti Sanjeevayya, a wrestler in Mysore in 1876. After her marriage she withdrew from all public performances. She spent time teaching many students. It was only much later in her old-age that she was recognised.
Sarvepallli Radhakrishnayya honoured her with the title of 'Natya Saraswati' in 1945. She was 88 then!

She is supposed to have given an extraordinary Abhinayam performance at that age! Venkatalakshamma recollected that many years later and performed the same Padams and Javalis.
Thayamma taught several girls from surrounding villages like Kolar, Mysore, Mandya and Mugur the Mysore Baani of Bharatanatyam. Many of them were appointed as Asthana Vidushis before independence. Out of them, Venkatalakshamma and Mugur Jejamma were famous and taught many others.
One must credit Maharaja Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar for abolishing the Devadasi system way back in 1909, long before it happened in Madras Presidency.

The Mysore Baani had four distinct branches. Mysore, Nanjangud, Kolar and Mugur styles of dance. Based on the repertoire.
Today, all styles are lost, and the Mysore style is on its last leg. But we should thank Venkatalakshamma who trained several students. They have further continued the tradition.

One can write endless about the greatness of the Mysore Royals and their patronage of arts! ☺️🙏
Sorry, that I randomly launched into this thread! 🤭

Seeing Venkatalakshamma's video brought back so many memories of interacting with her. ☺️🙏
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