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Defying age, this Kerala grandmother still practises, teaches “Bharatanatyam” 

Age has never stopped this 71-year-old classical dancer in Kerala from practising Bharatanatyam daily and imparting lessons to young children. For G Mahilamani, dancing generates a lot of positivity and helps her stay refreshed.

Though a fall two years back broke her knee cap and forced her to be bed-ridden for nearly a month, her determination and will power gave her the strength to recover and resume her dancing. She is fully aware that growing old has weakened her flexibility and agility which a Bharatanatyam dancer should have, but she has decided to remain brave and grow old gracefully dancing and teaching her students.

 “I am fully aware that the window for a body to maintain its flexibility and speed gradually closes. But dancing gives me immense pleasure. I enjoy teaching dancing and love to see young children learning it,” said Mahilamani who started learning dancing at the age of five from legendary dancer Rammuni of Aryakalanilayam.

She was also fortunate to be part of the dance school run by the famous Travancore sisters – Lalitha, Padmini and Ragini. In fact, it was under their guidance that she groomed and evolved as a classical choreographer. “There is no retirement for an artist and that’s the beauty of being a dancer. Ageing slows you down but when you perform you feel feather-light full of power,” she said.

She has also done a few minor roles in Malayalam movies like “Ninamaninja Kalpadukal”, “Ningalenne Communistakki”, “Jail”, “Aromalunni” and “Oru Sundariyude Katha” along with legendary actors like Prem Nazir, Madhu and Jayabharathi.

Mahilamani, who retired from Jawahar Bala Bhavan in Alappuzha in 2005 where she had worked as a Bharatanatyam teacher for over 30 years, now teaches students at her dance school “Sreekalanilayam” in Pazhaveedu, Alappuzha.  “I was very fortunate to have a highly talented artist like Nedumudi Venu as my colleague at Balabhavan,” she said, recalling those good old days when she worked along with Nedumudi Venu to compose dance and ballets.

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