A perfect example of a successful Acharya, Sheela Unnilrishnan is one who makes learning Bharathanatyam interesting and blissful. She is a perfect teacher who brilliantly discovers the ability of each one of her students and brings out the best in them. Sheela learnt the Melattur style of Bharathanatyam from Railway Sri Sundaram (a direct disciple of Mangudi Sri Dorairaja Iyer) and did her Arangetram along with her sisters on February 7th, 1982. She founded Sridevi Nrithyalaya in 1987 in Villivakkam with a handful of students and today, the institute has grown with over 250 students, currently on roll, learning the marvelous Melattur style of Bharathanatyam. An untiring hard worker, talented choreographer, dedicated teacher and energetic performer, Sheela adapts to all her aforesaid roles naturally and excels in each of them. Having done her research on the topic 'Dance Aspects in Sitrilakkiyam', she was conferred Doctorate by Tamizh University, Tanjavur, in 2017.
Sheela stands as a unique role model for all her students, who are now making a mark in national and international arenas. Four of her students have been honoured with the prestigious 'Balshree' award and Sheela has been accredited for many of her group thematic presentations and dance drama productions by critics and connoisseurs alike.