KJ Sarasa: Bharatanatyam’s first woman ‘nattuvanar’ is No More
K.J. Sarasa, 72, the first woman nattuvanar and an acclaimed Bharatanatyam teacher, died of cardiac arrest at a private hospital in Chennai Monday. Hailing from Karaikal , Sarasa’sfather Jagadeesan was a Nagaswaram artist . When she was six, her father died. With the help of a relative, she came to Chennai and set up School “Sarasalaya”, a dance school in 1960 continued to draw youngsters to Bharatanatyam.
No one would know this better than chief minister J. Jayalalithaa who was a student of Sarasa in the late 1960 s.
Over the years, the institution has produced a number of dancers. K.J. Sarasa trained chief minister J. Jayalalithaa, actor Kamal Haasan and Shobana, writer Sivasankari, dancer Urmila Satyanarayana and a number of other dancers. A recipient of the best Bharatanatyam teacher by the Sangita Nataka Academy and the Kalaimamani award, Sarasa was the first woman nattuvanar.
K.J. Sarasa had received many awards, including Kalaimamani, Natyaselvam, Natyaratna and Sangeet Natak Akademi’s best Bharatanatyam teacher.
A disciple of the great Vazhuvoor Ramaiah Pillai, Ms Sarasa was one of a few exponents of the Vazhuvoor style of dance.
She is survived by foster daughter Rajalakshmi, who is married to director Venkat Prabhu.
According to the source of news Ms Jayalalithaa condoled on K.J. Sarasa death and said that “In her career spanning over 50 years, she had the rare distinction of conducting over 500 arangetrams and over 1,500 performances around the world” .