A multifaceted artist, Krishnamurthy received many awards for her work, including the Padma Shri (1968), the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1977), and the Padma Bhushan (2001). The title of Asthana Narthaki (“Resident Dancer”) was bestowed upon her by the Tirumala Tirupathi Devasthanam temple. She published an autobiography (with Renuka Khandekar), A Passion for Dance: An Autobiography, in 1995.
Krishnamurthy began her training in bharata natyam, a graceful dance that incorporates geometric movements and rhythmic foot patterns, as a child at Rukmini Devi Arundale’s Kalakshetra, a leading school for the dance form. After mastering the basic skills, she went on to study under renowned dancers such as Kanchipuram Ellappa Pillai and Thanjavur Kittappa Pillai. After her debut in 1957 in Madras (now Chennai), Krishnamurthy quickly became a rising star in India’s dance scene.
At the urging of a teacher, she began studying kuchipudi, a quicker and more-spontaneous dance. She later learned odissi from Pankaj Charan Das and Kelucharan Mohapatra. In addition to dance, she was trained in Karnatak vocal music and the vina, a type of stringed instrument. Despite her diverse interests, Krishnamurthy continued to focus mainly on bharata natyam and kuchipudi, earning recognition and popularizing the dance forms both at home and abroad. In 1990 she opened her own dance studio, Yamini School of Dance, in Delhi.
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