Born on 15 June 1933 at Thiruvaiyyaru, Tamil Nadu, Shrimati N. S. Jayalakshmi received her training in
Bharatanatyam from Rukmini Devi Arundale at Kalakshetra Foundation, Madras. She also studied under
Karaikkal Saradambal, Mylapore Gowri Amma, and Dandayudhapani Pillai.
Shrimati Jayalakshmi actively participated in a number of dance-drama productions of Kalakshetra choreographed by Rukmini Devi. After 1960, she joined the faculty of Kalakshetra and imparted training in Bharatanatyam, gaining wide respect as a committed teacher. Among her students who have won laurels in the field are Shanta and V. P. Dhananjayan, Krishnaveni Lakshmanan, C. K. Balagopal, A. Janardhan, Leela Samson, Indira Bora, and V. Gayathri. Besides Kalakshetra, Shrimati Jayalakshmi has served as Visiting Professor at various universities and arts institutions. These include the University of Bombay, Andhra University, the RLV Academy, Thripunithura, Malayala Kalagramam, Mahe, Shri Bharathalaya, Chennai, the Nalanda Dance Research Centre, Mumbai, the Singapore Fine Arts Society, and the Saiva Mangayor Kazhagam, Sri Lanka. She has besides conducted workshops on dance in the U.K., Germany, France, Singapore, Malaysia and Australia as well as India. She has also presented papers on the performing arts at national and international conferences.
Shrimati Jayalakshmi is the recipient of several honours such as the Kalaimamani title of the Tamil Nadu Eyal Isai Nataka Manram, the Acharya Choodamani title conferred by Sri Krishna Gana Sabha and the Lalita Kala Ratna bestowed by Lalita Kala Academy, Mysore.
Shrimati N. S. Jayalakshmi receives the Sangeet Natak Akademi Tagore Award for her contribution to Bharatanatyam.