Guru Rhadha is one of the leading exponents of the Vazhuvoor tradition of Bharatanatyam, a fine choreographer, and a teacher extraordinaire.
Rhadha was born on 31 December 1941. As a child she started learning Bharatanatyam from her famous elder sister Kamala and also from Guru Vazhuvoor Ramiah Pillai. She learnt Kuchipudi from renowned Guru Vempati Chinna Satyam. Rhadha started performing simple numbers at the age of six in Kamala’s dance programmes. The three sisters (Kamala, Rhadha and Vasanthi) performed extensively in India and abroad. They danced before a galaxy of world leaders including Presidents S. Radhakrishnan and Dwight Eisenhower, Prime Ministers Jawaharlal Nehru and Chou En-Lai, and Queen Elizabeth II. Rhadha learnt Carnatic music from Needamangalam V.V. Subramaniam, Pathamadai Sundaram and D.K. Jayaraman.
Precision, grace, sparkling nritta, flashing drishti bheda, adherence to araimandi, amazing sarukku adavu-s, mandi adavu-s, and subtle abhinaya, are hallmarks of Rhadha’s dance. She is an aesthete’s delight.
Rhadha has won acclaim for choreographing solo items for the Bharatanatyam repertoire, as well as dance-dramas like ‘Nowka Charitram’, ‘Meenakshi Ammai Pillai Thamizh’, ‘Bhaavaye Padmanabham’, ‘Valli Bharatam’ and most recently ‘Ayodhya Kandam’. Her collaborative effort ‘Jaya Jaya Devi’ with violin vidwan Lalgudi G. Jayaraman was a resounding success, and was followed by another collaboration, ‘Lakshmi Prabhavam’ with Chitravina N. Ravikiran. Her choreography reflects her creativity within the boundaries of tradition.
Rhadha launched her dance school ‘Pushpanjali’ in 1982 where she trained scores of disciples who have won awards and acclaim in India and abroad. To her students “Rhadha Aunty” is a guru, confidant and friend – all rolled into one.
Rhadha choreographed Pudu Kavithai and Haiku and presented them for the first time in Bharatanatyam while collaborating with Sujatha Vijayaraghavan. UGC has filmed their presentations ‘Navarasa in Tyagaraja’ and ‘Nature in Bharatanatyam’. The Sruti Foundation has documented Rhadha’s dance demonstration of the Vazhuvoor tradition of Bharatanatyam which was recently brought out as a DVD.
Rhadha is the recipient of numerous titles and awards like the Kalaimamani (Tamil Nadu Eyal Isai Nataka Manram), Acharya Choodamani (Sri Krishna Gana Sabha), Natya Ratnakara (Cleveland Bhairavi Society), Nritya Ratnakara (Nungambakkam Cultural Academy), the Central Sangeet Natak Akademi award, Nritya Kala Nipuna (Mylapore Fine Arts Club), and the Sangita Kala Acharya (Music Academy), and the Award for Guru & Bharatanatyam exponent from (Natyarangam, Narada Gana Sabha) to name a few.
At 71, Rhadha continues to charm her disciples, collaborators and rasika-s alike.