Deeply entrenched in the old Tanjore tradition of Bharatnatyam, Chitra Visweswaran’s association with dance began at a very early age. Her first Guru, at the age of three, was actually her mother, Smt. Rukmini Padmanabhan, who was an excellent dancer trained in contemporary Indian dance and Bharatnatyam but never took it up as a profession. Chitra owes her artistic and creative vision to her mother and intellectual quest to her father, Sri. N. Padmanabhan, an engineer with the Indian Railways. After initiation into dance by her mother, Chitra undertook training in Western Classical Ballet in London where her father was Railway Adviser at the Indian High Commission. This was followed by training in Manipuri and Kathak in Kolkata. At the age of ten, she went under the tutelage of one of the best devadasis of Tiruvidaimardur, Smt. T.A Rajalakshmi, who was settled in Kolkata and under whom she trained for nearly 10 years. Her Arangetram (first maiden performance) took place within ten months, an astonishingly short period to achieve this level of proficiency. Chitra’s first piece of dance choreography was at the age of eleven. At thirteen, she had choreographed the life of Saint Thyagaraja in the format of a Varnam, the most demanding of pieces in the Bharatanatyam repertoire. In 1970, she received the National Scholarship for advanced study in Bharatnatyam from the Ministry of Human Resources Development, Government of India, at a time when only two scholarships were awarded throughout the country, as against twenty-five today. She spent her scholarship period of four years under the doyen of Bharatnatyam, Vazhuvoor Ramaiyya Pillai. Her experience as his shishya widened her aesthetic vision even as her earlier Guru’s training gave her excellent grammar and technique. Within three months of joining Vazhuvoor Ramaiyya Pillai, her guru introduced Chitra to the Madras audience by promoting her over all his other students as the heroine of a dance drama, Thirumalai Kumaresa Kuravanji, which her guru had choreographed. Eminent people such as Prof. Sambhamoorthy, Kapila Vatsyayan and Sunil Kothari noted her work. On completion of her scholarship, Chitra started working on her own, combining the lessons she had learnt from her gurus and her knowledge of the cognate forms of arts, harnessing to it a scholastic approach and holistic vision in order to develop a wholly individualistic philosophy of movement and language of communication. She started teaching dance at Kolkata at the age of sixteen, but it was in 1975 that she established Chidambaram Academy of Performing Arts (CAPA) in Chennai, now an acknowledged premier institution in India. Since its inception, she has extended its repertoire with several pieces culled through research, which has earned her a very strong and supportive following. Even as her institution grew, she slowly tried her hand in group performance choreography in which her earlier experience of the Bengal School helped her substantially. Chitra has performed in all major dance festivals in India and has undertaken several tours abroad. Her dance and lecture demonstrations have been documented for reference by various institutions and universities. She has received numerous accolades and revered titles in appreciation of her outstanding contribution to Bharatnatyam, like the title Kalaimamani, conferred upon her by the Government of Tamilnadu, Central Sangeet Natak Akademi Award and the Padma Shri from the President of India in 1992. In addition, in India’s 50th year of Independence she was awarded the titles of Mahila Shiromani (honoring distinguished women of Indian origin) and Sthree Ratna (gem amongst women - awarded to fifty eminent Indian women).