Among the classical dance forms of Kerala, Mohiniyattam has its uniqueness in being the only female classical solo dance. Mohiniyattam literally means the dance of the enchantress, and indeed does have a mesmerizing appeal to the audience. The attire used for its performance, which is predominantly white and gold in colour, unique hairstyle and graceful movements that follows a medium pace, all work towards the outstanding beauty of its performance.
After a lull in its popularity, the classical dance form of Mohiniyattam was revived by the erstwhile ruler of Travancore, Maharaja Swati Tirunal during the 19th century. His patronage saw Mohiniyattam evolving into a solo dance tradition with musical compositions set to the Carnatic style of music and with a distinct repertoire.
Not many artistes can achieve the high standards set by Mohiniyattam. Learning this dance form takes a lot of dedication and practice. Among the contemporary masters of Mohiniyattam is one who belongs to the genre of artistes who have made a mark of their own in Mohiniyattam. And in this league belongs Ms. Kalamandalam Satyabhama, who more than a performer was widely reckoned and respected for her teaching skills and was one of the highly respected teachers at Kerala Kalamandalam.
Now leading a retired life, yet active in her prime passion, Mohiniyattam, through teaching students, Ms. Satyabhama has to her credit, a bunch of renowned Mohiniyattam performers, who are today well known names at home and abroad. It was her approach to teaching and utmost devotion to her work that transformed Kalamandalam Satyabhama into an icon in teaching Mohiniyattam at the Kerala Kalamandalam. During her teaching years of more than three decades, students who underwent training in Mohiniyattam consider themselves fortunate to have trained under Ms. Satyabhama.
She has been honoured with several state and national honours. Of late, at her home in Shornur in Thrissur District, she is very much available for undertaking tasks that has something to do with Mohiniyattam. It is through such master artistes like her that the beautiful dance style of Mohiniyattam has managed to retain a distinct identity among the classical dance styles of India. She passed away on 13th September 2015 at Shoranur in Palakkad district at the age of 77.