Nataraja Ramakrishna passed away at the Nizam's Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS) in Hyderabad on Tuesday morning (7th June, 2011). The 88-year-old bachelor, who is known for his 'Andhra Natyam' and 'Perini Shivatandavam', was admitted to the hospital for treatment of pneumonia and stroke about 10 days ago and was put on a ventilator.
Kuchipudi legend Ramakrishna was born in Bali, Indonesia and his parents Damayanti Devi and Ramamohan Rao later returned to India. From his childhood, he was interested in classical dance forms. At the age of 18, he was given the title of 'Nataraja' in Nagpur, which was added to his name Ramakrishna. His first dance teacher was Sukhdev Kartak in Nagpur.
Dance maestro Ramakrishna was the architect of the revival of the 'Andhra Natyam' dance formt. Over his long career, he trained many dancers and wrote and choreographed highly acclaimed dance dramas. As a research scholar sponsored by the Government of India, he worked in the then USSR (Russia) and France to propagate Indian dance art.
Ramakrishna wrote more than 40 books, many of them highly awarded, and his contribution to the art of dance is widely recognized. He created an awareness of Kuchipudi dance with his innumerable performances, lecture demonstrations. He was honoured with the Padma Shri in 1992, a doctorate from the Andhra University and a Bharata Kala Prapoorna, apart from the NTR State Award. He served as Chairman of the Andhra Pradesh Sangeet Natak Akademi.
The death of Nataraja Ramakrishna has created an irreplaceable gap in the Indian music industry. He was buried on the land adjacent to the Taramati Baradari on the outskirts of the city today morning (8th June, 2011). The last rites were performed by Kala Krishna, a dance teacher, who was his favourite.