Santha Bhaskar: A great Dance Maestro Who Bridged Cultures and Hearts

Dancing Through Cultures: The Legacy of Santha Bhaskar

Santha Bhaskar :- In the realm of dance, few luminaries shine as brightly as Santha Bhaskar. Her life, spanning from 1939 to February 26, 2022, was a mesmerizing dance across cultures, leaving an indelible mark on the world of classical Indian dance. Born as Pankyamma Santhamma in Kerala, British Raj, her journey unfolded against the backdrop of a passion she initially resisted.

Santha Bhaskar’s Early Life and Education

Pankyamma’s childhood interests veered toward mathematics and science, yet destiny had other plans. Enrolled in dance lessons by her discerning father, she underwent training in Mohiniyattam, Kathakali, and Bharatanatyam.

Mentored by luminaries like Kunchu Kurup and Kutralam Ganesam Pillai, her talent blossomed. However, her life took an unexpected turn when, at the age of 15, she entered into an arranged marriage with K.P. Bhaskar, a renowned classical dance performer in Singapore.


In 1956, Santha Bhaskar moved to Singapore with her husband, becoming an integral part of the Bhaskar Academy of Dance. Over the years, she not only became the academy’s artistic director but also delved into teaching Bharatanatyam in Malaysia.

Bhaskar’s dance productions were a harmonious blend of diverse cultures, incorporating elements from Thai, Chinese, and Malay traditions. Collaborations with notable figures like Zubir Said and adaptations of Chinese folk tales showcased her artistic versatility. “The Butterfly Lovers,” a synthesis of a Chinese folk tale through Indian dance, stands as a testament to her innovative choreography.

Her repertoire expanded with groundbreaking works like “Manohra,” fusing Thai and Chinese dance, and “Rasa & Dhwani,” a choreographic masterpiece based on Singaporean poems in multiple languages. Bhaskar’s commitment to multiculturalism was evident in collaborations with ballet dancer Goh Lay Kuan and Malay dancer Som Said.

Contributions to Education

Beyond the stage, Santha Bhaskar’s impact extended to education. From 1977, she imparted her knowledge at the National University of Singapore, teaching Indian dance for over four decades. Her establishment of the Nrityalaya Aesthetics Society, alongside her husband, nurtured the arts in more than 2000 students, covering dance, music, and theatre.

Personal Life

Santha Bhaskar, a mother of three, shared her passion for dance with her daughter, who followed in her illustrious footsteps. Tragically, she passed away at the age of 82 during the Grand Celebration performance, marking the 70th anniversary of the Bhaskar Arts Academy.

Awards and Honors

Bhaskar’s contributions did not go unnoticed. The accolades she received, including the Cultural Medallion, Public Service Star, and Meritorious Service Medal, reflected her profound impact on Singapore’s cultural landscape. In 2021, she was rightfully inducted into the Singapore Women’s Hall of Fame, a fitting tribute to a lifetime of dedication to the arts.

Also Read :- Rajaratnam: A Visionary Founding Father of Singapore

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