Mr KP Bhaskar

Mr Bhaskar

Born on 1 July 1925 in the south Indian state of Kerala, the late Mr KP Bhaskar began his dancing career learning Kathakali at the Royal Dance School of Travancore. Through the years he had the benefit of learning from several gurus. In addition to other dance forms such as Manipuri and Kathak, he also learnt ballet from a Russian ballerina while he was in Bangalore, and Kandian dance while in Sri Lanka.

Among his gurus was the world-famous Uday Shankar, brother of sitar legend Ravi Shankar. With Uday, he worked on Kalpana, a dance film project which led to his subsequent job as an Assistant Dance Director at the Gemini Studios in Madras. During the Second World War, he went on tour with a troupe entertaining the Indian army in lands as far-flung as the Middle East and Africa.

On his way to Australia in 1952, Mr Bhaskar stopped over in Singapore and owing to serendipity, he stayed on. Taking advantage of his situation, he established Bhaskar’s Academy of Dance and started teaching dance in Singapore and Malaysia. Along with his new wife Mrs Santha Bhaskar, a talented dancer and choreographer, he built up a name for himself and the institution by performing all over the island and the peninsula.

In 1965 when Singapore separated from Malaysia, the Bhaskars concentrated their work in Singapore and in 1988 they established Nrityalaya Aesthetics Society, which remains the teaching wing of the organisation till today. A yoga expert himself who studied meditation in the Himalayas, Mr Bhaskar also organised yoga classes to be taught. The Society currently offers a full flight of classes in dance, music and yoga to over 1,500 students.

Mr Bhaskar was also a passionate writer. He has written three books on Indian dance and has contributed numerous articles to arts magazines. He was also a regular contributor to papers presented at national and international conferences. In addition, he has written scripts for television including a 13-part series on Bharathanatyam and a 26-part series titled “Aspects of Indian Dance”. For his numerous contributions to the field of arts, Mr Bhaskar earned several prestigious awards such as Pingat Jasa Gemilang (PJG), Natya Kalanidhi and Nritya Siromani (Honorary doctorate degree).

Mr Bhaskar’s involvement in the community bestowed him the honour of heading a cultural mission to India in 1962/63. An active voice in the arts community, he was the pioneering chairman of the Dance Advisory Committee overseen by the Ministry of Culture. In addition, he was a member of the People’s Association, the National Theatre Trust, the Kreta Ayer People’s Theatre, the National Theatre Club and the Singapore Arts Federation. He was also president of the Singapore Kathakali Yogam for 20 years.

He founded Bhaskar’s Arts Academy Ltd in 1993 with a vision to provide artistes with more career opportunities and to expose Singaporeans to professional level classical Indian dance and music productions. The Academy currently employs several full-time dancers and musicians and produces large-scale performances here and abroad.

With a firm grip of the happenings of the arts world, Mr Bhaskar remained the president of Nrityalaya Aesthetics Society and CEO of Bhaskar’s Arts Academy till his passing at age 87.