Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Mohiniattam's Basic Information

 Mohiniattam is essentially a feminine dance of Kerala recorded to have begun between the 3rd and 8th century AD. Legend says the Lord Vishnu took the form of Mohini to entice the asuras (demons). During the churning of the ocean, the asuras rushed towards the bowl of nectar. Vishnu appeared in the feminine form of Mohini to entice the asuras and took the bowl away.
Literally meaning the dance of the enchantress, Mohiniyattam was mainly performed in the temple precincts of Kerala. The most popular padams in Mohiniattam, composed by Swati Tirunal, describe the heroine's yearning for her lover. Lord Vishnu or Sri Krishna is more often the hero.
Mohiniattam was conceived as a form of social diversion. It is essentially a solo dance performed by women with tender and graceful body movements in the lasy style. Hand gestures play an important role as a communication system. The dominant emotion in this dance form is shringara or love for the Divine.
The dancer wears a white sari resplendent in a gold border. On festive occasions, young girls perform this dance ina circle with simple movements, while singing songs.
The repertoirs of Mohiniattam follows closely that of Bharatanatyam. Mohiniattam, like other forms, follows the Hasthalakshana Deepika as textbook of hand gestures. The basic steps in this dance form are adavus-toganam, jaganam,dhaganam and sammisram. The adavus or steps are set to musical compositions. The varnam has a simple format with greater emphasis on abhinaya and less on nritta or pure dance.
The performance begins with Ganapati stuti or invocation followed by mukhachalam, a pure dance item in which the graceful delineation of charcteristic movements is seen. The repertoire of Mohiniattam consists of five principal items, starting with cholkettu, then vrnam, jatiswaram, padam and concluding with tillana. Varnam combines pure and expressional dance, while padam tests the histrionic talent of a dancer and tillana reveals her technical artistry. Jayadevas Gita-Govinda is most popularly performed to depict the divine love of Radha and Sri Krishna.
The most well-known performers of this dance are Ms Kanak Rele and Ms Bharati Shivaji.

The costume includes white 
sari embroidered with bright golden brocade (known as kasavu) at the edges. The dance follows the classical text of Hastha Lakshanadeepika, which has elaborate description of Mudras (gestural expressions by the hand palm and fingers).
The vocal music of Mohiniyattam involves variations in rhythmic structure known as chollu. The lyrics are in Manipravalam, a mixture of Sanskrit andMalayalam. The Mohiniyattam dance is performed to this accompaniment by the subtle gestures and footwork of the danseuse. The performer uses the eyes in a very coy yet sensual manner, the purpose being to enchant the mind without enticing the senses.

Mohiniyattam is a traditional South Indian dance form from Kerala. It is very graceful and is meant to be performed by women. The term comes from the words mohini, meaning a woman who enchants onlookers and aattam, which means graceful and sensuous body movements. The entire word means “dance of the enchantress.” This form of dance has been influenced and has elements from two South Indian dance forms, Bharatanatyam and Kathakali. The dance involves the swaying of the hips and gentle movements of the torso. This is reminiscent of the swinging of palm leaves and gently flowing rivers in Kerala. There are forty different basic movements. The costume is a white sari with bright golden embroidery.s that whicDANCE
The costume is mostly white or cream white in color stitched out of a saree. The border of the saree is in golden color or sometimes also have colorful border.

Theme & Format
The theme of Mohiniattam is love and devotion to god. Lord Vishnu or Krishna is the hero in most of the recitals. The spectators feel His invisible presence when the heroine or her maid details dreams and ambitions, through the circular movements, delicate footsteps and subtle expression. The dancer, with the slow and medium tempos, is able to find adequate space for improvisations and suggestive bhavas. In format, this dance is similar to Bharatanatyam. The movements are as graceful as Odissi. Mohiniattam, like many other dance forms, follows the Hastha Lakshandeepika, as a text book for Mudras, or hand gestures.

Repertoire & Steps
Mohiniattam, essentially a solo dance, is nowadays being performed in groups as well. The repertoire of Mohiniattam closely follows that of Bharatanatyam. Beginning with Cholkettu, the dancer performs Jathiswaram, Varnam, Padam and Thillana in a concert. Varnam combines purity and expression in dance, while Padam tests the histrionic talent of a dancer and Thillana exposes her technical artistry. The basic dance steps are the Adavus which are of four kinds: Taganam, Jaganam, Dhaganam and Sammisram. These names are derived from the nomenclature called Vaittari.

Make-up, Costume & Music
Mohiniattam maintains realistic make-up and simple dressing. The costumes used in dance are sober and attractive. The dancer is attired in a beautiful white and gold-bordered Kasavu saree of Kerala. The style of vocal music for Mohiniattam has generally been seen as classical Carnatic. The lyrics are in Manipravala (a mixture of Sanskrit and Malayalam). Earlier, Thoppi Maddalam and Veena provided the background music of Mohiniattam. These have been replaced, in recent years, by the Mridangam and Violin.


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