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Pandit Venugopal J Pillai hails from a family of artist-musicians and is the grandson of a senior dancer in the court of the royal family of Tanjavur. His late father, Janardhan Pillai, an accomplished violinist and composer along with his uncle, Guru Chandrashekhar Pillai were among his first teachers in music. At his uncle’s suggestion, Venugopal approached Acharya Parvatikumar for instruction in Bharata Natyam.
During his studies with Acharya Parvatikumar, Venugopal Pillai participated in many dance dramas including Discovery of India, presented by the Indian National Theater and based on Jawaharlal’s Nehru’s book of the same name.
Over the years, Pandit V J Pillai has trained numerous dancers and teachers who are now teaching and performing worldwide. He has researched and choreographed several unique works including the Nava Sandhi Kauthukam, a reconstruction piece reminiscent of the temple tradition of Bharatanatyam.
In 2006, Pandit V J Pillai visited the United States on a three-month long performing and teaching tour. During this tour he conducted workshops, master classes, and provided nattuvangam for several performances.
He has been honored by several organizations including the title of Pandit, or scholar, by the State of Maharashtra. Along with his wife, Jayashree, an accomplished dancer teacher and choreographer, he conducts classes through their dance institution, Tanjavur Nrityashala.