Smt. Sreedevi started dance choreography at the very early age of 15. She choreographed numerous items in Mohiniyattam, for the music compositions of legends, such as Maharajah Swati Tirunal, Sri Irayimman Thampi, Sri Thyagaraja Swamikal, Sri Kabir, Sri Tulsidas, Sri Muthuswami Dikhshitar and Smt. Kalamandalam Kalyanikutty Amma, to name a few. She also wrote and choreographed many Ganapathi Sthuthis, Padams and an Ayyappa Saptham as part of her contribution to Mohiniyattam repertoire. She directed and presented many TV performances for the Doordarshan Kendra and private Indian channels, such as Asianet and Kairali TV.
Smt. Sreedevi Rajan was a stage performer, a dancer and a vocalist for classical dance performances of her institution (Nrithyakshetra) for more than five decades. She has won numerous accolades, both as an amateur dancer and as a professional dancer for both Mohiniyattam and Bharatanatyam. She was a B high-grade singer for All India Radio from 1960s to almost three decades. A few of her recent honors include Senior Fellowship from Ministry of Human Recourses, Govt. of India, and the title Natyashreshta (in 2007) by Kaladarpanam India.
Being a Post Graduate in Malayalam literature and a Senior Fellow of the Ministry of Culture, Govt. of India, Smt. Sreedevi Rajan worked on the Medieval and Modern Malayalam literature for widening the reach of abhinaya in Mohiniyattam. Some of the well know efforts include the following:
· Ezhuthachan’s Ramayana and Mahabharata,
· Poonthanam’s Jnanappana,
· Unnayi Warrior’s Nalacharitham Aattakadha,
· Vallathol Narayana Menon’s Magdalana Mariyam,
· Kumaran Asan’s Karuna,
· Ulloor S. Parameswara Iyer’s Karnabhooshanam,
· G. Shankara Kurup’s Sooryakanthi
· O. N. V Kurup’s padams
· Muthuswami Dikhshitar’s Navavarna Krithis (9 Keerthanas)
She is continuing her work, with special emphasis on Nava rasas. Her endeavour is to elevate the theme of Mohiniyattam from just Sambhoga Shringara and Vipralambha Shringara to extend the range of the concept of ‘Love’ in Mohiniyattam. She has contributed her sincere effort as a member of the team of research conducted by the late Guru Kalamandalam Kalyanikutty Amma. She has conducted several lecture demonstrations and performed her Mohiniyattam repertoire in many parts of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. As mentioned earlier, she has also directed and presented many TV programmes.
Smt. Sreedevi Rajan has also served as a member of the selection committees for Mohiniyattam exams conducted by Ministry of Human Resources and Cultural Development and Centre for Cultural Resources and Training to promote young talented artists in the country. Her brilliant talent in teaching, and composing dances and lyrics for Mohiniyattam is highly commendable.
She runs an institution, Nrithyakshetra (Temple of Dance), at Kochi, which is an offshoot of her parent’s institution, Kerala Kalalayam at Tripunithura to promote Indian classical dance forms.
Sreedevi continues teaching, and composes dances and lyrics in Mohiniyattam, Bharatanatyam and Keralanatanam in her own institution, Nrithyakshetra at Ernakulam, Kochi. Her objectives in running Nrithyakshetra are as follows:
- To develop a love for Indian classical dances among the youth.
- To instill in students a sense of devotion, dedication, and discipline by learning the great dance forms, especially Mohiniyattam, Kathakali and Bharatanatyam, and classical music.
- To carry on the great tradition and initiate, the uninitiated, to the enchanting world of beauty, grace and charm.
Currently, Smt. Sreedevi Rajan visits the U.S. Chapter every year to conduct workshop and other master classes. Sreedevi Rajan is the managing trustee of Kalyana Krishna Foundation, which is a not-for-profit organization focused on the promotion and cultural goodwill of the classical performing art world.
Many of Smt. Sreedevi Rajan’s disciples are now eminent Mohiniyattam performers is a testimony to her commitment to this art form. A few of her illustrious students who are in the limelight today:
* Brigitte Chataignier
* Deepthy Omchery Bhalla
* Gopika Varma
* Hisayo Watanabe
* Lawrence Fallot
* Priyadarshini Ghosh Shome
* Radha Dutt
* Radha Karman
* Radhika Varma
* Shyamala Surendran
* Smitha Rajan