Karnataka Kalashree Guru Sreedevi Unni
Sreedevi Unni, born in a talented family in Kozhikode was lured and initiated into the world of dance at a very young age. She was trained under eminent Gurus like Sri. Balakrishnan Nair, Sri. Kelappan, Kalamandalam Chandrika and Kalamandalam Kalyanikutty. Achievement according to her is contributing one’s best in their field of interest with great perseverance. Dance being her passion, she chose Mohiniyattam, the traditional dance form of Kerala as her field of excellence. Sreedevi understood the nuances of this dance form, the lasya, the abhinaya, and its therapeutic effect to overcome stress and realize inner peace.
Monisha arts formerly known as Nrithyavedi, was founded by Smt. Sreedevi Unni in 1979 and was renamed in 1995 in memory of her daughter late Monisha Unni. Since then the school, a non - profit organization, has come a long way and has achieved many objectives. Today, it is a registered society providing a platform to several young artists who are talented and want to advance in their dance field. Having performed for several festivals such as Dussera Festival, The Hampi Festival, The Kadamba Festival and so on, excelling in several prestigious shows and occasions both in India and abroad, the institution also sponsors upcoming dancers and conducts workshops in dance as a therapy.
Her passion for dance urged her to look beyond regional boundaries. She is instrumental in bringing the audience of Karnataka closer to Mohiniyattam by adapting its lyrics to the local language. Always willing to experiment, she introduced the Mohiniyattam ballet, which gained instant recognition.
A few accomplishments
- TRIBUTE TO SWATI THIRUNAL (1999)
- PADMANABHAM BHAJARE (1999)
- SHAKUNTALA (2000)
- NARADAKORAVANJI RUGMINI KALYANAM (2000)
- RADHESHYAM FOR ISKON BANGALORE (2004)
- MOHINIAVATARAM (2005)
- NIMISHAMBHAMAHIME (2006)
- GANDHIM SHANTIM FOR SARVODAYA INTERNATIONAL TRUST (2002)
- MATHRUSPANDANAM ‘ GANDHARI VILLAPA’ (2007)
She was a member of the jury for the Doordarshan auditions for dance 2003 and the author for the Mohiniyattam syllabus in Karnataka.
She also has a few Malayalam films and several ad films to her credit.
Her valuable contribution in her field of excellence has won her the title ‘Karnataka Kalashree’ in 2002, an award instituted by the prestigious Sangeeta and Nruthya Academy in Karnataka.
Yuvakalabharathi Guru Sri. Ashok Kumar
A record holder and choreographer, Guru Sri Ashok Kumar is an exponent of several classical dance forms. He has been trained by renowned Gurus of Bangalore which has seen him become a grade ‘A’ artist with, Doordarshan, Indian National Broadcast and an empanelled artiste under ICCR.
Ashok Kumar established Natyanjali School of Dance in the year 1986. As the Artistic Director of the school he has trained hundreds of students in the classical art forms of Bharatanatyam and Indian folk dances over the past 24 years.
It is Guru Ashok Kumar’s undying dedication and commitment that led him to be the first to train a group of visually impaired students in the field of dance. His excellent training through the ‘Touch and Feel Technique’, for which he holds a patent, gave them the social identity as dancers. As a pioneer of this technique and for having led them to perform in more than a thousand shows, he holds a place in the Limca Book of Records.
Some of the awards and titles with which Ashok Kumar has been honored nationally and internationally for his works in the field of dance are:
- Appreciation from the then Honorable Prime Minister of UK, Mr. Tony Blair 2000,
- Appreciation from the Toronto governor in 2004 ,
- Huston felicitation 2004.
- Fellowship from the Government of India,
- State Award from the Government of Karnataka,
- Top 10 Bangalorean award among others.
Guru Ashok Kumar’s versatility as a choreographer and commitment as a Guru is evident in his dance compositions and Ballet Productions. His choreographic works performed by the Natyanjali ensemble have won him critical acclaim from far and wide.