Classical dancer Kalamandalam Sathyabhama passes away

Kalamandalam Sathyabhama, doyen of classical dance form Mohiniyattam passed away in Palakkad district of Kerala. She was 77.
She was regarded as a matriarch of Mohiniyattam and was well-known for her experimental reforms in this classical dance form which helped to preserve and popularise the traditional art form.

About Kalamandalam Sathyabhama

  • Kalamandalam Sathyabhama was born at Shoranur in 1937 and had started learning classical dance at a very early age of 12.
  • Her debut on major stage was in 1955 during the silver jubilee of the Kalamandalam (Kerala Government’s Deemed University of Art and Culture).
  • She also was the first woman Vice Principal of Kerala Kalamandalam and later, became its Principal till she retired in 1992. She was also well versed in other classical dances of Kerala.
  • Publications: She had published a treatise on Mohiniyattam (in Malayalam) by name, Mohiniyattam – History, Techniques and Performance.
  • Awards and Honours: Padma Shri (2014), Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi Award (1976), Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1994), Kerala Government’s Nruthya Natya Puraskaram (2005), Kalamandalam Award (1988) etc.
  • Personal life: She was married to Kalamandalam Padmanabhan Nair (died in 2007) who was widely regarded as the master of Kathakali grammar.

About Mohiniyattam dance

  • Mohiniyattam is a classical dance form from Kerala and is considered as a very graceful form of dance meant to be performed as solo recitals by women.
  • It believed to have originated in 16th century and is one of the eight Indian classical dance forms recognized by the Sangeet Natak Akademi.
  • The word Mohiniyattam literally means ‘dance of the enchantress’ and it has been derived from the words Mohini meaning a woman who enchants onlookers and aattam meaning graceful and sensuous body movements.
  • The vocal music of Mohiniyattam involves variations in rhythmic structure known as chollu and the lyrics are mixture of Sanskrit and Malayalam.


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