S.Rajam’s (Music Appreciation notes)

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Kalamandalam Sathyabhama

Birthdays & Anniversaries

4.11.1937 - 13.9.2015
Kalamandalam V. Sathyabhama, hailed as the “mother of Mohini Attam”. The art form has lost a personwho nurtured it and was one of its strongest pillars. Her contribution to the sustenance of Mohini Attam, as we see it today, is unmatched.

Sathyabhama’s last recorded interview was for me, and I am glad that I videographed this historic document for my personal footage. In December last year, she allowed my men to video-shoot her class at the Kalamandalam as a visiting professor.

 Sathyabhama was born on 4 November 1937 to Kadambatt Krishnan Nair from Thalassery (Kannur) and Venat Ammini Amma in Shoranur (Palakkad). Recalling her childhood she told me, “I became interested in dance, watching classes at my school, Ezhuthachan UP School, Shoranur. So while studying in the fifth standard I started training in dance with a teacher called Balan.

He visited my home and taught me a couple of items such as Siva-Parvati nrittam and Pooja dance. My father had passed away, but my mother and brother appreciated my interest in dance. Some of the neighbours frowned at me – a girl from a decent Nair family being trained in dance. But we ignored it. We were inspired by the music and dance of T.R. Rajakumari, Sai-Subbulakshmi, and Baby Kamala in Tamil films, which we passionately loved. The brothers Achutha Warrier and Krishnankutty Warrier, who were teaching Bharatanatyam at Kalamandalam, were staying in a rented house near the institution. Arrangements were made for me to learn Bharatanatyam from them as a private student along with my teacher Balan Master. After some time when Balan Master left Shoranur, my dance training stopped as I was twelve and found it difficult to go alone for dance training to a house where only two men lived.

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