Famously called as ‘the empress of Bharatnatyam’, legendary Indian classical dancer, T Balasaraswati’s dedicated her entire life to the art of Bharatanatyam.
A celebrated dance legend and outstanding Carnatic vocalist, Balasaraswati helped popularise Bharatanatyam in different parts of India and around the world.
In Singapore’s ‘Dance India Asia Pacific 2019 event, the inspiring life story of Balasaraswati was organised as part of the exhibition held in under the title. ‘Credo of a Dancer”. She was the only non-western dancer included in a compilation of the Dance Heritage Coalition, “America’s Irreplaceable Dance Treasures: The First 100.
Born in Chennai, Balasaraswati was one of the 20th century’s foremost exponents of the bharata natyam style of classical dance. She was instrumental not only in expanding the performance of this dance form beyond the precincts of the temples where it was traditionally performed but also in cultivating international appreciation of the art form.
Balasaraswati began to gain international recognition in the early 1960s, with performances in East Asia, Europe, and North America. Later that decade, throughout the 1970s, and into the early 1980s, she visited the United States repeatedly and held residencies as both a teacher and a performer at Wesleyan University (Middletown, Connecticut), California Institute of the Arts (Valencia), Mills College (Oakland, California), the University of Washington (Seattle), and Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival (Beckett, Massachusetts), among other institutions. Through her international engagements as well as her activities in India, especially in Madras, Balasaraswati not only exposed countless audiences to the traditional style of bharata natyam but also trained many new practitioners of the art form.