Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Mohiniyattam / Mohiniattam, the dance of enchantress

Mohiniyattam, the graceful performing art of Kerala has a history of more than 100years. The dance form became more popular during the rule of Maharaja Swathi Thirunal in Travancore (now known as Thiruvananthapuram). Mohiniyattam or Mohiniattam the classical art form from Kerala is recognized as one among the eight Indian classical dance forms by Sangeetha nataka academy.  

The dance form has different mythologies connected to its origin, all focused on Lord Vishnu. According to myths, Lord Vishnu appeared as Mohini, the enchantress. In ancient days, mohiniyattam was practiced by Devadasis, the women wholly dedicated to God. The great Malayalam poet, Shri Vallathol Narayana Menon, gave a face lift to the art form through his institution the Kerala Kalamandalam. Smt. Kalamandalam Kalyanikutty Amma,
the student and later teacher at Kerala Kalamandalam contributed her entire life for the art form Mohiniyattam. She is known as ‘the mother of Mohiniyattam’.

Costumes & Song
The mohiniyattam dance as its expression implies has very simple costumes. The dancers wear a white saree with golden laces called ‘kasavu’ with traditional ornaments. According to the rules of this dance form there is a specific way to wear the attire. They usually have braid hairstyle decorated with flowers, usually jasmine. The performers may also have bun hairstyle on the left side of the head decorated with flowers. They wear ‘chilanka’, the dance bells on their leg.

The main expression of the dance of enchantress is laasyam. So dance form is more suitable for female than male. The dance has slow steps and the dancers move according to the rhythmic songs called chollu. The beautifully choreographed adavus(steps) are performed with mesmerizing gestures.

The Sangeetha Nataka Academy is an autonomous body to promote art forms recognized by Government of India. Kerala Kalamandalam is a deemed university of art and culture established by the renowned poet Mahakavi Vallathol Narayana Menon. The institution is situated on the banks of river Bharathapuzha or Nila in the Cheruthuruthy village of Thrissur district in Kerala. Many famous dancers had their basic learning in arts from this institution.

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