Bharatanatyam is the oldest classical dance tradition in India. The dance form was prevalent in ancient Tamil Nadu, and several books have coded them such as Natya Shastra. Natya Shastra is just a codification by an unknown author of the forms of dance existing in Tamil Nadu.
Born on 12th August 1943, to a well to do Indian family in Malaysia, Shanta Dhananjayan had been showing an ardent passion towards dance from the tender age of three. Walking into the campus of Kalakshetra as young as 8, Shanta, a child prodigy had an inborn response to dance and joy of movement. With Rukmini Devi as mentor and Chandu Panickar as the guru, she was an outstanding student in Bharatanatyam and Music. Holding a Post Graduate Diploma with a distinction in Bharatanatyam, she has also learnt Kathakali and Carnatic music from Kalakshetra.
The match made in heaven was matrimony realized at Kalakshetra. A partner on stage becoming a partner for life was a dream come true for Shanta & Dhananjayan. They stepped into a life dedicated to dance in the staff quarters of the Kalakshetra Campus where both of them served as faculty. There is never a moment that passes without Akka and Master stating, “Whatever we are today, it is because of Rukmini Devi and Guru Chandu Panicker.”
A performer, a singer, a teacher par excellence – Shanta Akka is the perfect balance to this legendary institution installing in her students the core values which shape not just an artist but a better human being.