V. Satyanarayana Sarma
Born(1935-09-09)9 September 1935
Died16 November 2012(2012-11-16) (aged 77)
Other namesSatyam
Occupation(s)Classical dancer
Known forKuchipudi
ChildrenOne son and two daughters
Parent(s)Vedantam Venkataratnam
AwardsPadma Shri
Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship
Sangeet Natak Akademi Award
Kalidas Samman

Vedantam Satyanarayana Sarma (1935–2012), popularly known as Satyam, was an Indian classical dancer and choreographer, considered by many as one of the leading exponents of the classical dance form of Kuchipudi.[1][2] He was known for his portrayal of female characters such as Usha (Usha Parinayam), Satyabhama (Bhama Kalapam), Deva Devi (Vipra Narayana), Mohini (Mohini Rukmangada), Sasirekha (Sasirekha Parinayam) and Gollabhama (Gollakalapam).[3] [note 1] He was a recipient of several honors including Kalidas Samman, Sangeet Natak Akademi Award and Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship. The Government of India awarded him the fourth highest civilian honour of the Padma Shri, in 1970, for his contributions to Dance.[4]


Portrait of Siddhendra Yogi

Satyanarayana Sarma was born on 9 September 1935 at Kuchipudi,[note 2] a small village in Krishna district of the south Indian state of Andhra Pradesh in Vedantam family which is known for its Kuchipudi tradition, to Vedantam Venkataratnam and Subbamma.[6] He started training Kuchipudi at the age of five under his elder brother, Vedantam Prahalada Sarma, and later trained under known exponents, Vedantam Lakshminarayana Sastri and Chinta Krishnamurthy.[7] He also did training in classical music under Yeleswarapu Seetharamanjaneyulu and Sishta Brahmaiah Sastry, as Bhagawata Melam (Kuchipudi Yakshagaanam), a dance-drama format of Kuchipudi required the performer to sing as well.[8] He made his debut at the age of fourteen, performing in two melams, Harischandra and Ramanatakam, staged at a local temple by the group led by Pasumarthy Kondalarayudu. His first major performance came at the age on nineteen, when he portrayed the role of Parvathi in Usha Parinayam, staged in Sapru House, Delhi.[6]

Sarma continued performing as female characters in many melams and his portrayal of Sathyabhama in the dance-drama, Bhama Kalapam, reportedly written by Siddhendra Yogi[note 3] later became his signature role.[6] Gollabhama, Mohini, Sasirekha and Devadevi were some of his other notable characters. He is known to have developed a new ethos in abhinaya, often termed as Eka Patra, which, in the beginning, did not meet with the approval of many traditionalists of the art form. He performed in over 10,000 stages, including in front of Rukmini Devi Arundale, the founder of Kalakshetra. In 1967, he performed as a male dancer in a dance sequence, Girija Kalyanam, in the Telugu film, Rahasyam, directed by Vedantam Raghavayya. Towards the latter part of his life, he was more involved in teaching the dance at Venkatarama Natya Mandali, a dance school dedicated to Kuchipudi, at his native place.[10] He also wrote several texts on the dance form and Natya Shastra, Abhinaya Darpanam, Tandava Lakshanam and Alankara Shastram feature among them.[6]

Sarma was married to Lakshminarasamma and the couple had a son and two daughters.[11] He died on 16 November 2012, at the age of 77, succumbing to respiratory illnesses at a private hospital in Vijayawada.[12][13] His life has been documented in a film, I am Satyabhama, directed by Dulam Satyanarayana.[14][15]

Awards and honors

Sarma received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1961,[16] making him the first Kuchipudi exponent to receive the honor.[7] Six years later, the Akademi honored him again, with Sangeet Natak Akademi Ratna in 1967.[17] The Government of India included him in the Republic Day honors list for the civilian honor of the Padma Shri in 1970.[4] The Government of Madhya Pradesh also honored him with their civilian award, Kalidas Samman, in 1988.[7]

See also

A Kuchipudi Sequence


  1. ^ Names of the respective dance-dramas in brackets.
  2. ^ The dance form, Kuchipudi, is named after the village, where the art is known to have originated from.[5]
  3. ^ The origin of Kuchipudi is attributed to the contributions of Narayana Teertha and his disciple, Siddhendra Yogi. Bhama Kalapam is the popular name of Parijatapaharana, a play written by Yogi.[9]


  1. ^ Ananda Lal, ed. (2004). "Vedantam Satyam". The Oxford Companion to Indian Theatre. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195644463. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  2. ^ Sunil Kothari, Avinash Pasricha (2001). Kuchipudi. Abhinav Publications. pp. 40, 61, 100, 176, 177 of 247. ISBN 9788170173595.
  3. ^ Ranee Kumar (28 October 2003). "Dance like a man". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 17 January 2004. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  4. ^ a b "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2013. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  5. ^ Banham, edited by James R. Brandon ; advisory editor, Martin (1993). The Cambridge guide to Asian theatre (Pbk. ed.). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. p. 96. ISBN 9780521588225. ((cite book)): |first= has generic name (help)CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  6. ^ a b c d Veejay Sai (12 September 2015). "Vedantam: Kuchipudi's Original Sathyabhama". The NEWS Minute. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  7. ^ a b c "A tribute to legend Vedantam Satyanarayana Sarma". Obituary. Narthaki. 29 November 2012. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  8. ^ "His female roles left an indelible impression". Indian Express. 25 November 2012. Retrieved 20 August 2016.[dead link]
  9. ^ Khokar, Mohan (1984). Traditions of Indian Classical Dance. India: Clarion Books. p. 158.
  10. ^ "A Web Directory of Indian Classical Dances". Narthaki. 2016. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  11. ^ "Kuchipudi maestro Vedantam dead". Deccan Herald. 2016. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  12. ^ "Kuchipudi maestro Vedantam Satynarayana Sarma passes away". Sakshi Education. 2016. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  13. ^ "CM condoles Vedantam Satyanarayana Sarma's demise". Web India News. 16 November 2016. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  14. ^ Sudha Sridhar (8 May 2013). "Dulam Satyanarayana on his documentary 'I am Satyabhama'". Narthaki. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  15. ^ "Panelists". Indo-American Arts Council. 2016. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  16. ^ "Akademi Awardees". Sangeet Natak Akademi. 2016. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  17. ^ "Akademi Fellows". Sangeet Natak Akademi. 2016. Retrieved 20 August 2016.

Further reading