Every art is the expression of the ‘here and now’ when you elaborate its natural dynamics. Dance is movement, literature, archaeology, mystery, music, painting, poetry and drama.
It is a window into a large life.
Eminent dancer-teacher-choreographer, Chitra Visweswaran, a legend in the field of Indian dance, has the distinction of being a scholar, thinker & seeker. Deep-rooted training in Bharatanatyam under Smt.T.A.Rajalakshmi & the doyen Vazhuvoor Sri.B.Ramaiyya Pillai, an eclectic background & inner thirst for knowledge launched her on a voyage of discovery, at a young age. Her research directed towards the extension of the existing Bharatanatyam repertoire, has led to the creation of a voluminous body of work, covering the margam, thematic solo, group /dance theatre productions, which reflect individuality and are a synergy of tradition & innovation. Her work has been enriched by the music of her vocalist - musician - composer husband, R.Visweswaran, who incidentally, was the nephew of the Carnatic Legend G.N.Balasubramaniam.
Chitra Visweswaran’s formal training in dance began with Western Classical Ballet, in London, at the age of five, but, in actuality, her first Guru, at the age of three, was her mother, Rukmini Padmanabhan, who was an excellent dancer, trained in the Uday Shankar School of dance and Bharatanatyam, as also a Veena player. It is to her that Chitra owes her artistic and creative vision. To this, was harnessed an insatiable intellectual and cerebral quest, which she owes to her father, Sri.N.Padmanabhan, a brilliant Engineer.
After initiation into dance by her mother, Chitra, underwent training in Western Classical Ballet in London, which was followed by lessons in Manipuri and Kathak, in Kolkata. At the age of ten, she went under the tutelage of one of the best devadasis of Tiruvidaimardur, Smt.T.A.Rajalakshmi, who was settled in Calcutta. Her Arangetram (first maiden performance), at the age of eleven, took place within ten months, an astonishingly short period to achieve the degree of proficiency that Chitra did.
She continued her Bharatanatyam training in Kolkata and in parallel, studied Rabindra Nritya. Her youth, spent at Kolkata, was studded with frequent, laudable & noteworthy stage appearances.
Not confining herself to the performing aspect of dance alone, Chitra, taking full advantage of the frequent closure of Calcutta University, studied dance theory, dance history, philosophy and world religion entirely on her own and subsequently became deeply involved in interdisciplinary search and research.
In addition, Chitra learnt Carnatic Music, Rabindra Sangeet, lighting, stagecraft and as a youngster also acted in theatre productions.
In 1970, on completion of B.A. (Hons.) in English from Calcutta University, she received the National Scholarship for advanced study in Bharatanatyam from the Government of India, at a time when only two scholarships were awarded throughout the country. She spent her scholarship period of four years under the doyen of Bharatanatyam, Vazhuvoor Ramaiyya Pillai, at Chennai. Her experience, as his sishya, widened her aesthetic vision, even as her earlier Gurus’ training gave her excellent grammar and technique.
On completion of her scholarship, Chitra started working on her own, bringing together the gift 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. Her repertoire, which is vast and unique and entirely created by her, is born of intense research at all levels of interpretation.
Her holistic vision of dance and her husband, musician-composer R.Visweswaran’s vision of music, is ensured a continuum through Chidambaram Academy of Performing Arts, established by the couple, at Chennai, in 1975.