Kalamandalam Kshemavathy received the Nrithya-Natya Puraskaram of the Government of Kerala for 2008, this month. As a child, she always wanted to be a dancer. All the accolades, including this Puraskaram, are recognition of herwork in this field of performing arts. From the sixties onwards, Keshemavathy has remained one of the busiest dancers in Kerala.
A five-year diploma course from Kalamandalam moulded her as a consummate performer under A.R.R. Bhaskara Rao, Thottassery Chinnammu Amma and Kalamandalam Sathyabhama.
She graduated mainly as a Bharatanatyam dancer since Chinnammu Amma knew only a few pieces in Mohiniyattam. Her higher studies in Chennai were also in Bharatanatyam under Muthuswamy Pillai, Chitra Visweswaran and Adayar Lakshmanan. She also took lessons in Kuchipudi from the veteran Vempatti Chinna Sathyam.
Association with these stalwarts opened enough performance opportunities for Kshemavathy. Asan Memorial School, Naradagana Sabha and Krishnagana Sabha, all in Chennai, were regular platforms for her. In addition, she was also regularly invited for Kuchipudi performances by her guru in Andhra Pradesh and shared stages with Padmavathy Srinivasan and Sobha Naidu.
Kshemavathy is a rare artiste with exceptional organising skills as proved in the functioning of her own institution, Kerala Kalamandiram, which she founded in 1965. Her students include some of the contemporary, young outstanding professional dancers like Vinita Nedungadi, Dr. Neena Prasad, Pallavi Krishnan and the up-and-coming performer Aparna Marar.
She was a member of the executive committee of the Kerala Sangeeta Nataka Akademi for two terms. Her performances abroad include the one in Berlin in 1973 in connection with the World Youth Festival and in the Festival of India in Paris in 1985.
The dancer won the Kerala Sangeeta Nataka Akademi award for Bharatanatyam in 1975. Sangeet Natak Akademi award and Kalamandalam Award have been other accolades.