Dancers' Paradise



Mohiniattam is one of the important classical dance forms of Kerala, presenting a perfect mode for solo performance that incorporates both the Lasya and Tandava styles. The technique is based on Kathakali, another prominent dance form of Kerala. Both Kathakali and Mohiniattam include the peculiar manner of dancing with the feet and legs apart, and the knees greatly bent. And again, in both forms we find the use of fine rhythmic syllables in the recitation and play of the drum, with perfect synchronization of the dancer’s feet. The style of abhinaya or facial emoting in Mohiniattam is also similar to that of Kathakali and the themes just as varied, telling as they do, the age-old stirring tales from the Ramayana, Mahabharata and Puranas.

Mohiniattam generally starts at a medium tempo and increases gradually to reach a thrilling climax, where the series of pure dance sequences blossom into a superb pattern of movements, grace and strength, combining in the design of footwork, posture, varied arm movements and hand gestures. Such is the flawless manner in which this dance style has been conceived, that technique and interpretation are most skillfully merged while sustaining the beauty of posture. As the lyrical story is chanted, and the dancer interprets the theme, one is struck by the unique arrangement where the exciting speed and the rhythm of the dance sequences continues smoothly into the dramatic. The dancer expresses each mood and the sentiment of the story by gestures, emotional acting and specially created mime.

Mohiniattam presents a dance style that is thrilling and full of allure, beautifully blending Nritta (pure dance), Nritya (movements of the body, hands, limbs with facial expression and use of eyes and eyebrows) filled with rasa (emotional flavor), and Natya (the combination of both dancing and acting). According to legend, when Vishnu wanted to defeat the demon Bhasmasura, He took the form of Mohini, representing delusion, and lured him into a dance contest through which the asura (demon) was entranced and destroyed.

To be continued

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