My love for dance started when I met my teacher, Uma Dandayudapani—or “Uma Akka,” as I call her—for the first time at age 8, when we moved from Delhi to Chennai. She had a very calm demeanor and a musical vibe around her. Her voice smooth and calming, yet very commanding, when the jathis were said.

Only later in life I became aware that she was the daughter and disciple of legendary Padmashri K.N. Dandayudapani Pillai, the great nattuvanar and composer of music for bharathanatyam dance students, some of whom were Vijanthimala Bali, Dr. Jayalalitha (former CM of Tamil Nadu), the actress Srividya, Waheeda Rehman, and Urmila Satyanarayanan, to name a few. His  compositions specially varam are still a central part of many dance performances.

I am fortunate that Kalaimamani Uma Dandayudapani Pillai (Uma Akka) is now visiting in the Bay Area from Sept. 24-Oct. 4. She has been creating many new talents for the past 36 years, and has finished her doctorial thesis on nattuvangam.

The government of India has given her many awards for her outstanding research in Padam and Javali. Uma has also done programs and workshops in places such America, Australia, Fiji, Malasiya, and Canada. She is currently a assistant professor at Annamalai University.

While she is in the Bay Area, she will be offering some exciting workshops for students and teachers. The highlight of her series is a lecture demo titled “Life and Composition of K.N. Dandayudapani Pillai,” on Sept. 25, 5-7 p.m., in Mountain View.

For more info on this and other workshops, contact (650) 533-6266, (408) 260-9733.priya_chandrasekar@yahoo.com.

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