Kalamandalam Leelamma

Kalamandalam Leelamma

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Press Release

Lyrical recital
, The HINDU, Friday, May 18, 2007
Enchanted by Mohiniyattom, The HINDU, Friday, November 16, 2007

THE HINDU * Friday, November 16, 2007


Enchanted by Mohiniyattom


SPOTLIGHT Kalamandalam Leelamma, was bagged the Kalamandalam award for Mohinyattom, has widened the scope of Mohiniyattom without deviating from ist framework.


G.S. Paul


The year 2007 has been an eventful year in the career of Kalamandalam Leelamma. After she retired as a head of the department of dance Kerala Kalamandalam, in June, a post she had held for 32 years, she was reappointed as Dean of the same faculty of deemed university that came into being in the same month, In October, the same institution selected her for its prestigious award for Mohiniyattom.

“The award for Mohiniyattom is more significant since the dance form had almost become extinct was revived in Kalamandalam,” said the soft-spoken and publicity shy Leelamma.

A recipient of the Senior Research fellowship of the Department of Culture, Dehli, Leelamma belongs to the rare genre of dancers for whom age does not seem a barrier for performances. She is also trained in Bharata Natyam and Kuchipudi. Small wonder then that she was the Sanskrit university’s choice to head the department of Mohiniyattom that was started in 1995.

A member on the panel experts of ICCR, Leelamma has been honoured with numerous accolades. Her disciple have been instrumental in popularising Mohiniyattom across the globe.


Text on Mohiniyattom

Her book, yet to be titled and published, is likely to be the first text for students of Mohiniyattom.

A native of Mattakkara, near Kottayam, Leelamma’s association with Kalamandalam began 1968. As a child, she was trained in Kerala Natanam and she gave many performances under her guru Chellamma’s guidance.


As advised by a well-wishers, she then applied for admission to Kalamandalam. […]


Unforgettable was the four years of arduous but comprehensive training under maestros Bhaskara Rao, Sathyabahma, Chandrika, Leelamani, Ramaswamy, Vasudeva Panicker and Sukumari Narendra Menon.

Leelammas’ days in Kalamandalam as a student witnessed the evolution and perfection of the “Kalamandalam style” and a spurt in choreographies in Mohiniyattom.

Kalamandalam Sathyabhama gave shape to numerous novel choreographies that included the varnam “Danisamajendra” in Todi, “Chandalabikshuki”, “Kannaki”, “Nagila”, the Dhanyasi varnam and many padams.

Leelamma embarked on a number of projects and choreographies when she took over the department from her guru Sathyabahma in 1997.

In this connection, Leelamma’s contribution on enriching the repertoire of Mohiniyattom by choreographing cholkettus in ragamalika and talamalika and quite few dance dramas has been epochal.


Among them “Dasavatharam”, “Magdalana Mariam”, “Kachadevayani”, “Rugmangadacharitam” and “Kalyanasoughandhikam” deserve special mention.
ONV’s “Ujjayani”, her latest, won rave reviews all over the country.

The HINDU * Friday, May 18, 2007

Lyrical recital


DANCE   O.N.V. Kurup's „Ujjaini“ was presented as a dance drama by Kalamandalam Leelamma.




A confluence of enriching emotions and simple but effective techniques marked the presentation of “Ujjani”, a short dance drama by senior Mohiniyattom performer and teacher Kalamandalam Leelamma and her troupe.

The event was organised in connection with the award distribution ceremony of Kalamandalam fellowships at Vyloppilly Samskriti Bhavan.


Kalidasa's dilemma


The production, based on the famous poem “Ujjani” by O.N.V. Kurup, depicted a dilemma in the life of Kalidasa. Select parts of the poem were used in the composition to narrate the story. Leelamma used simple mudras and adavus to recreate the poem visually. Credit goes to Kilimanoor Madhu for creating the right script for the dance.


The story, opens with a scene on the banks of river in Malava. A young woman Malavika shares her worries, anxieties and dreams with the serenely flowing river, which considers as her mother. Ordered to marry the King of Ujjaini, her heart longs for Kalidasa. Her story, which was turned into a play “Malavikagnimitram”, leaves Kalidasa disturbed.


Leelamma's interpretation of the emotions of the young woman was charming. […] The production was interesting, thanks to the short but clear storyline and professional approach of Leelamma. […]. The troupe was accompanied by a team of competent musicians. Nattuvangam was by Kavitha Krishnakumar and vocal by Thissur Rajiv Kumar.


Kalamandalam Shivadas on the Mridangam, Thrissur Krishna Kumar on the Edakka, Thrissur Murali Krishnan on the veena and Thrissur Murali Narayanan on the flute contributed to the aesthetics of the programme.