Mangaluru: A committee constituted by the state government, which was headed by Dr Vasundhara Doreswamy, has chosen city-based Vittal Shetty, a dance guru better known as Master Vittal, to receive the coveted Shantala Dance Award.
Teaching and training students in Bharatanatyam tirelessly for about 75 years, the 93-year-old Master Vittal has also introduced this Indian classical art abroad. He has composed and choreographed dance dramas (ballets) based on Ramayan, Mahabharat and the Bible.
He had the privilege to present the Bible-based ballet ‘Creation’ at the 38th International Eucharistic Congress held in Mumbai in 1964 in the presence of Pope Paul VI. He also acted in another Bible-based ballet ‘The Three Kings’ at the same event.
He started learning Bharatanatyam in 1940 from the renowned dance guru Rajan Aiyar and has been the guru of hundreds of students, among them several dance gurus now and is being revered as a great Bharatanatyam teacher.
Among the awards won by him are the Rajyotsava Award, Kalashree Award from the Karnataka Sangeeta Nritya Academy and several titles from the dancing fraternity.
The award is named after Shantala Devi who was the queen of Vishnuvardhana of the well-known Hoysala dynasty of the ancient Karnataka area in 12th century AD. She is said to have been an accomplished Bharatanatyam dancer.