Bharati Shivaji
OccupationClassical dancer
Known forMohiniyattom
AwardsPadma Shri
Sangeet Natak Akademi Award
Lasya Lakshmi
Sahitya Kala Parishad Samman
Nritya Choodamani

Bharati Shivaji is an Indian classical dancer of Mohiniyattom,[1] choreographer and author, known for her contributions to the art form by way of performance, research and propagation.[2] She is the founder of Center for Mohiniyattam, a dance academy promoting Mohiniyattom[3] and the co-author of two books, Art of Mohiniyattom[4] and Mohiniyattom.[5] She is a recipient of the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award[6] and Sahitya Kala Parishad Samman.[7] The Government of India awarded her the fourth highest civilian honour of the Padma Shri, in 2004, for her contributions to Indian classical dance.[8]


Mohiniyattam is one of the eight Indian classical dance forms recognized by the Sangeet Natak Akademi. The term Mohiniyattam comes from the words "Mohini" (meaning a woman who enchants onlookers) and "attam" (meaning graceful and sensuous body movements). The word "Mohiniyattam" literally means "dance of the enchantress".[9]

Bharati Shivaji was born in 1948 in the temple town of Kumbakonam, in Tanjavur district of the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu,[10] and had her early training in Bharatnatyam under Lalita Shastri[11] and Odissi under Kelucharan Mohapatra.[12] Later, on advice from Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay, renowned social reformer, she took up research on Mohiniyattom, the traditional dance form of Kerala.[7] After obtaining a research fellowship from Sangeet Natak Akademi, she traveled to Kerala and pursued research under Kavalam Narayana Panicker, a scholar of the Temple Arts of Kerala and former vice-chairman of Sangeet Natak Akademi.[13] Shifting her focus from Bharatnatyam and Odissi,[11] she started training Mohiniyattom under Radha Marar and, later, under Kalamandalam Satyabhama, and also had a training stint under Kalamandalam Kalyanikutty Amma,[3] considered by many as the Mother of Mohiniyattom.[14]


Moving to New Delhi, Shivaji founded the dance academy, Center for Mohiniyattom, a dedicated facility for promoting the dance form. She is known to have contributed to the evolution of the dance tradition,[7] by adding more languor to the already languorous discipline,[11] and by adapting it to other dance forms such as ballet; her Mohiniyattom adaptation of the Swan Lake of Tchaikovsky, choreographed along with her daughter, Vijayalakshmi, is one such effort.[15] Her productions include adaptations of Bhanusinger Padavali of Rabindranath Tagore,[16] Chandrotsavam of the Manipravalam, Somastuthi from the Rig Veda, and the Devagita, from Ashtapadi.[3] She is known to have incorporated postures, movements and music from other Traditional art forms of Kerala such as Ottamthullal, Kaikottikali, Thayambaka and Krishnanattam into Mohiniyattom, a legacy from her tutelage under Kavalam Narayana Panicker.[17]

In 1986, Shivaji published his first book, Art of Mohiniyattam, co-authored by Avinash Pasricha.[4] The book documents her researches under Sangeet Natak Akademi fellowship and a subsequent senior fellowship from the Department of Culture under the Ministry of Human Resource Development and is a reference book on the subject.[7] She published another book, Mohiniyattam, co-written by her daughter, Vijayalakshmi, herself a noted Mohiniyattom performer, in 2003.[5] The book deals with the history and evolution of the art form and comments about the styles and techniques, repertoire, music, costumes and jewellery associated with it.[2] She has performed on several stages in India[18][19] and abroad[20] and has taught many Indian and foreign students.[21] She also continues her research by visiting temples and gives lecture-demonstrations on the dance form at conferences and seminars.[16]

Awards and honours

Shivaji was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1999-2000.[6] Four years later, the Government of India included her in the 2004 Republic Day Honours list for the fourth highest civilian award of the Padma Shri.[8] She is a recipient of the Sahitya Kala Parishad Samman, Lasya Lakshmi title from Kunchan Nambiar Memorial Trust, Kerala and Nritya Choodamani title from the Krishna Gana Sabha, Chennai.[22] She won the Nishagandhi Puraskaram of the Government of Kerala in 2017.[23]

Sara and Urs Baur, two American filmmakers, have made a documentary, Beyond Grace, on Mohiniyattom and the art of Shivaji which features her daughter, Vijayalakshmi, too.[24] The 78-minute film, which details the work of the mother-daughter combination,[25] was premiered on 9 July 2011 at the Raleigh Theatre, Hollywood, Los Angeles.[24]


See also


  1. ^ "Heritage Club IIT Roorkee". Heritage Club IIT Roorkee. 2015. Archived from the original on 26 November 2015. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Mohiniyattam (Bharati Shivaji and Vijayalakshmi)". Exotic India Art. 2015. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
  3. ^ a b c "Classical Dancers of India". Classical dancers. 2015. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
  4. ^ a b Bharati Shivaji, Avinash Pasricha (1986). Art of Mohiniyattam. Lancer, India. p. 107. ISBN 978-8170620037.
  5. ^ a b Bharati Shivaji, Vijayalakshmi (2003). Mohiniyattam. Wisdom Tree. ISBN 9788186685365.
  6. ^ a b "Sangeet Natak Akademi Puraskar". Sangeet Natak Akademi. 2015. Archived from the original on 31 March 2016. Retrieved 25 November 2015.
  7. ^ a b c d "Padmashri Bharati Shivaji". Thiraseela. 2015. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
  8. ^ a b "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 October 2015. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  9. ^ "Mohiniyattam". 2015. Archived from the original on 13 April 2017. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
  10. ^ "Performers of Indian dances and music". Indian Embassy, Russia. 2015. Archived from the original on 27 November 2015. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
  11. ^ a b c "Bound to Kerala by Mohiniyattam". The Hindu. 17 May 2012. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
  12. ^ "Time for Samvaad". The Hindu. 16 November 2014. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
  13. ^ "From law to theatre". The Hindu. 31 October 2004. Archived from the original on 26 February 2018. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
  14. ^ "Kalamandalam Kalyanikutty Amma". Smith Rajan. 2015. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
  15. ^ "The power of grace". The Acorn. 2015. Archived from the original on 27 November 2015. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
  16. ^ a b "A seeker's odyssey". The Hindu. 16 April 2015. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
  17. ^ "Mohiniattam Style". Kuchipudi. 2015. Archived from the original on 4 December 2015. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
  18. ^ "BVB celebrates Munshi's birthday". Hindustan Times. 7 May 2013. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
  19. ^ "Bharati Shivaji to perform today". Tribune. 18 October 2002. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
  20. ^ "Bollywood meets Holyrood". Guardian. 22 August 2002. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
  21. ^ "Russian belle dons role of Radha in Kerala's Mohiniattam". South Asia Mail. 30 April 2008. Archived from the original on 27 November 2015. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
  22. ^ "Profile of Padmashree Bharti Shiwaji". Spicmacay. 2015. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
  23. ^ "Nishagandhi Award for Bharati Shivaji". The Times of India. 20 January 2017. Archived from the original on 21 January 2017. Retrieved 21 January 2017.
  24. ^ a b "Docu on Mohiniyattam exponents to be screened". Indian Express. 7 July 2011. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
  25. ^ "Beyond Grace". Beyond Grace the Movie. 2015. Archived from the original on 27 November 2015. Retrieved 26 November 2015.

Further reading