Born on 7 December 1928 in Bangalore, Shrimati Kalanidhi Narayanan received her training in
Bharatanatyam from Shri Kanchipuram Kannappa Pillai. Under Shrimati Mylapore Gouri Amma and
Shri Chinnaiah Naidu she received specialized training in abhinaya. She also learnt Carnatic music
under Shri Manakkal Sivarajan and Shrimati Kamakshi Ammal, daughter of Shrimati Veena
Dhanammal, who specially taught her padams and javalis.
Though Shrimati Kalanidhi Narayanan’s own career as a dancer was brief, she has come to acquire status as a teacher of the art. Her special contribution lies in the teaching of abhinaya, an integral aspect not only of Bharatanatyam, but the entire tradition of classical Indian dance. Over the last four decades, a number of leading dancers have benefited by her lessons and guidance in abhinaya.
Apart from teaching at her institution Abhinayasudha, founded in 1980 in Madras, Shrimati Kalanidhi Narayanan has been conducting special courses at the M.S. University, Baroda, and the National Centre for the Performing Arts, Bombay. She has also choreographed and presented several dance programmes focusing on abhinaya: ‘Ashta Nayika’, ‘Contrasts and Parallels’, ‘Women of Ramayana’, ‘Nayika Bhava in Alwar Hymns’, etc. Among other honours, Shrimati Kalanidhi Narayanan received the Padma Bhushan in 1985 and the Emeritus Fellowship of the then Department of Culture, Government of India for 1990-92, the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1990), and the Kalaimamani by Tamil Nadu Eyal Isai Nataka Manram, Chennai.
Shrimati Kalanidhi Narayanan is elected Tagore Fellow of Sangeet Natak Akademi for her contribution to classical Indian dance.