Guru Jayashankar Menon
Shri.Jayashankar Menon was born in the year 1944 in a small town named Irinjalakuda near Trichur in Kerala State, India. He studied in National High School at Irinjalakuda. In all the school cultural programmes he was a regular candidate in dance. The latent power of performance art in young Jayashankar was noticed by his Hindi teacher who encouraged him to take part in Dance and Drama programmes. The teacher later put him for training in Kathakali under the well known exponent, Kalamandalam Karunakaran. Young Jayashankar perfected the art of Kathakali under Kalamandalam Karunakaran and Sadanam Nandakumar and participated in many Kathakali programmes. He won first prize in Kathakali in the state school youth festival held at Calicut, Kerala in the year 1959. At college level too Jayashanker continued with his passion for art and participated in most of the college functions. It was during the collage days Mr.Jayashankar got opportunities to undergo training in dance under well known teachers including Shri.Paramashivam Pillai, a well known Bharatanatyam guru who introduced him to the Bharatanatyam dance form. He later shifted to Madras (now Chennai) to pursue his post graduation course in physiology from University of Madras. While undergoing the course at Chennai, he took the opportunity to attend dance programmes of many of the top dancers.
In 1971 he migrated to New Delhi to join as a scientist with Defence Institute of Physiology and Allied Sciences under Ministry of Defence, Government of India. His love for art dragged Mr.Jayashankar to auditoriums in Delhi to attend cultural programmes. In 1974 he met Guru K.J. Govindarajan who was one of the most respected gurus of that time in Bharatanatyam. He was also a great music composer, lyricist and choreographer. Mr.Jayashankar considers himself to be fortunate to have undergone vigorous training under the great guru. Seeing the grasp over the subject, the flair and passion for classical dance in young Jayashankar, Guru Govindarajan took special interest in him and composed and choreographed many items keeping him in mind. Encouraged by his Guru, Mr.Jayashankar took Bharatanatyam as a challenge, especially since it was a field dominated by female dancers and perfected himself in the art.
Guru Govindarajan paired young Jayashankar with Ms.Radha Marar, a famous exponent of Bharatanatyam and Mohiniyattam and presented their duet performances regularly in Delhi and other states. One of their performances in 1975 in front of a packed audience in Delhi was given rave reviews by the famed critics in the field. Thereafter many performances were presented under the auspices of cultural organizations of repute such as – The Swatitirunal Sangeet Sabha, Trivandrum, Kerala, Nishagandhi festival conducted by Kerala Tourisum Development Corporation, Trade Fair Authority of India- New Delhi, Sahitya Kala Parishad - New Delhi, Indian Council for Cultural Relations – New Delhi, Doordarshan etc. On three occasions, Mr.Jayashankar Menon performed for the National Programme of dance under the auspices of Doordarshan as an A grade artist. He is an A grade artist with Doordarshan since 1988 and also empanelled with ICCR since 1992 and presented a programme for ICCR for the benefit of visiting Japanese artists. In 1994, he conducted a Bharatanatyam programme of his disciples at Dhaka, Bangladesh for Hospital Endowment Fund.
While pursuing his career as a scientist, Mr.Jayashankar not only continued learning under his Guru but also started teaching with the blessings of his Guru. His method of teaching was well appreciated and accepted by the parents as well as experts in the field. Encouraged by the well wishers and Guruji, the institution called ‘Nritya’ was formed in 1984 to promote traditional classical dance forms and to encourage young talented artists. The number of students kept on increasing and it became difficult for him to continue the Government service and teaching together. In 1993 Mr.Jayashankar Menon consulted his Guruji and took the conscious decision to take voluntary retirement as Senior Scientific Officer from the 22 years of Government service to dedicate himself full time for the promotion of Indian classical art forms – especially Bharatanatyam. Mr.Jayashankar Menon shared a magnificent and fruitful association over a couple of decades with his Guru which lasted till the demise of the great Guru in 1994. As one of the chief inheritors of his guru’s legacy, Shri.Jayashankar Menon has passed on the mantle faithfully to several students. He has been a generous and conscientious teacher willing to give all he has to the students.
For nearly three decades Guru Jayashankar Menon has been working tirelessly and quiet sincerely to promote and develop the classical art of Bharatanatyam in its traditional form. Under the auspices of Nritya, hundreds of students receive training in different stages of Bharatanatyam every day all seven days in a week. Already fifty eight students have performed their Arangetram under his tutelage and many more have completed the course.
Guru Menon himself has choreographed lyrics of Swati Tirunal, Tyagaraja, Bharatiyar, Papanasam Sivan and Purandara Dasa which are notable for simplicity, precision and devotion. Krishnarpanam, Narayaneeyam and Thyagaraja Panchratna Kritikal etc. are few of his items receiving much appreciation and laurels from the media and audience. He has been acclaimed and honoured at various cultural forums for his contribution to the promotion of classical dance forms including excellence award "Vishal Bharati Gaurav Satkar" by Delhi Telugu Academy for his contribution for promoting Bharatanatyam, 'Alumni Achievement Award' on the occasion of Platinum Jubilee celebration by National High School, Irinjalikuda, Kerala, bestowed with the title 'Aasthana Guru' by Sri Devi Mookambigai Meditation & Cultural Centre, New Delhi, honoured as 'NrityaKovida' by Asthika Samaj, New Delhi and honoured by 'Dwarakalaya' New Delhi for his immense contribution for promoting Bharatanatyam in Delhi.