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INDIAN DANCE

 

MOHINIATTAM

 

Mohiniattam is a dance of an enchantress who causes havoc and destruction to the wicked and great delight and pleasure to the good. It is one of the two major dance dramas of Kerala. It is a kind of synthesis of Kathakali, Bharatanatyam and a few folk dances of the region. It is said to be older than the Kathakali. The first reference to Mohiniattam is found in 'Vyavaharamala' composed by Mazhamangalam Narayanan Namboodiri, assigned to the 16th century AD.

In the 19th century, Swati Thirunal, the king of erstwhile Travancore, did much to encourage and stabilize this art form. Poet Vallathol revived it and gave it a status in the modern times through the Kerala Kalamandalam, which he founded in 1930. Kalamandalam Kalyaniamma, the first dance teacher of the Kalamandalam was instrumental in resuscitating this ancient art form. Along with her, Krishna Panicker, Madhavi Amma and Chinnammu Amma nurtured aspirants in this discipline at the Kalamandalam.

The theme of Mohiniattam is love and devotion to Lord Vishnu or Lord Krishna. The basic format of the traditional Mohiniattam repertoire is similar to that of the Bharatanatyam, progressing through Cholkettu, Jathiswaram, Varnam, Padam and Tillana. It presents a perfect combination of abinaya, nritta and nritya to evoke rasa. The songs contain the theme of divine love and the dancer interprets it with her skilled footwork, movements of the hands, and facial expressions. Everything in this dance continues smoothly and softly to the accompaniment of the cymbals, veena, maddala, and chenda.

The costume is usually white or off-white comprising of sari. Adornments include various ornaments and ankle bells and garlands of jasmine in the hair. The style of vocal music is classical Carnatic. The lyrics composed by Maharaja Swati Tirunal and Irayimman Thampi are in Manipravala (a mixture of Sanskrit and Malayalam).

Famous Exponents: Kalamandalam Kalyaniamma, Krishna Panicker, Madhavi Amma and Chinnammu Amma are the pioneers of Mohinattam.



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