Mohiniattam

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Mohiniyattam performer
Koodiyattam artist Dr Indu G performing Nangyar Koothu
Mohiniyattam, The Classical Dance of Kerala, India
Mohiniyattam performer striking a pose
A view of Koothambalam at Kalamandalam Deemed University of Art and Culture

Mohiniyattam, also spelled Mohiniattam (Malayalam: മോഹിനിയാട്ടം), is a classical dance form, a dance form of the women of Kerala. Believed to have originated in 16th century CE, it is one of the eight Indian classical dance forms recognised by the Sangeet Natak Akademi. It is considered a very graceful form of dance meant to be performed as solo recitals by women. The vocal music of Mohiniyattam involves variations in rhythmic structure known as chollu. The lyrics are in Manipravalam, a mixture of Sanskrit.

Quotes[edit]

  • The aesthetics of a dance form springs from the land of its origin.
  • ...the most beautiful and complete language of movements through which the Indian dancer provides the concrete manifestation of the inner state and vision of his/her existence, of the truth of all experiences, by art.
    • The Indian concept of abhinaya in "Tryst with Mohiniyattam."
  • Hasthalakshanadeepika, the ancient Sanskrit classical text on the dances of Kerala, mentions 24 basic mudras or hand-gestures, which are in use in the classical dance dramas of Kerala. Mohiniyattam, in particular, uses them.
  • ...the relationship among the traditional forms of Mohiniyattam, Nangiar Koothu and Thiruvathirakali — all of which feature female artistes.
    • By Nirmala Paniker in “Treatise on Mohiniyattam”
  • Like most classical arts in Kerala, it's the youth festivals that are keeping Mohiniyattam alive among the younger generation. Youth fetes are a good thing but they are just not enough for the future of performing arts. Now that they've taken out the Kalaparthibha-Kalathilakam titles and started awarding grades instead of first place, second place...in competitions, I find that it is actually a little demoralising for the young performers. After all, who doesn't want to win? They would have worked hard enough for it as it is. The government needs to be much more proactive. Much like they help sports persons get placements, why can't the Government support those who choose performing arts as a career? Not only would such a move be an incentive for people to take up performing arts but it would also ensure that the arts sustain themselves.
    • Kalamandalam Vimala Menon in ‘My students are my wealth' by Nita Sathyendran, The Hindu Friday Review, June 24, 2011) in Quotes. Narthaki.com. Retrieved on 17 January 2014.
  • In the absence of a well-defined structure, Mohiniyattam had earned qualifiers like ‘poor cousin of Bharatanatyam, ‘an off-shoot of Kathakali' and so on during the 60s and the 70s. This had motivated quite a few dancers to make serious attempts to provide the dance form with an identity indigenous to Kerala;
    • By G. S. Paul in "Devoted to art". The Hindu. 22 December 2011. Retrieved on 17 January 2014. 
  • Mohiniattam has long been referred to as the Bharatanatyam from Kerala. There was once a time when it was also called a 'bad imitation of Bharatanatyam. But all that has changed now.
  • Year 1960 onwards, Mohiniattam, in spite of being a very old dance form, has started gaining prominence. It has spread from Kerala to other South India states, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and now, even Mumbai. I know many kids who are choosing to pursue Mohiniattam instead of Bharatanatyam.
    • Dr Kanak Rele in "Dance has its own language: Dr. Kanak Rele."
  • Treatises belonging to the Sangham period shed light on this. Perhaps the efforts to link Mohiniyattam to Thiruvathirakali and Nangiarkoothu were a sequel to this research.
    • Nirmala Panicker in "Devoted to art."
  • They [Attaprakaram of Nangiarkoothu] opened a treasure trove of mudras employed in this art form that could be traced to the ‘Hasthalakshanadeepika'.
    • Nirmala Panicker in "Devoted to art."
  • ...could rejuvenate items like Easal, Poli, Kurathy and Chandanam of Mohiniyattam that had become extinct.
    • Nirmala Panicker in "Devoted to art."
  • Nirmala Paniker has done research on the Hastalakshana Deepika and by 1985, introduced a methodology for learning all the hand gestures in Mohiniattam using the Sanskrit slokas for the first time in the history of Mohiniattam.
  • In Mohiniattam guru Nirmala Paniker turns 60. Narthaki.com. Retrieved on 17 January 2014.
  • Mohiniyattam has gone through a renaissance many times. It had a renaissance under Swati Tirunal, then again at Kalamandalam and now innovations are being brought in. Kerala has so many traditional and ritualistic art forms, when compared to other States. Kathakali and Koodiyattam, being male-dominated, naturally enjoyed more popularity and for a long while Mohiniyattam, sadly, was sidelined. Thanks to the structure laid down by dancer-scholars such as Kalyanikutty amma, Kalamandalam Satyabhama and the efforts of people like Bharati Sivaji and Kanak Rele, the face of Mohiniyattam has changed…now Mohiniyattam has a good stage, both nationally and abroad.
  • In the oriental art tradition, the relation between the Guru and the Shishya is exemplary. Among traditional performing arts of Kerala, Mohiniyattam along with Kathakali fascinated Western artistes even in the early 20th century.
  • Mohiniyattam is not a well known Indian dance form in France unlike Bharatanatyam. The Western audience does appreciate the moods of the Nayika in and the movements of Mohiniyattam...Since it is a cultivated art form I don’t expect to draw a crowd to watch Mohiniyattam. But there will always be rasikas and connoisseurs in the audience.
    • Brigitte Chataignier in "Mohiniyattam:‘a cultivated art form."
  • The film on Mohiniyattam [he directed] primarily aims at experiencing the ‘dance’ rather than dissecting it intellectually. It juxtaposes the life of women on- and off-stage. The film is on Mohiniyattam and not on the individual styles of performance. Working with Adoor was an ingenious and insightful experience.
  • ...like the wavy movements of the arm in Mohiniattam. With eight girls synchronising, it looks fabulous."
  • The possibility of presenting the subtle facial expressions and detailed mudras for which Mohiniattam is famous? "I can't jump around like a frog to show my energy," she quips, emphasising, "The methodology will change, but you can't destroy the soul." The mukhaja abhinaya, conveying expression using the face and eyes, for which she is known, she reserves for limited spaces.
    • Kanak Rele in "Imagination unlimited."
  • The lone survivor of this unbroken tradition is Kalamandalam Sathyabhama. She has been rightly described as the matriarch of Mohiniyattam for her epochal contributions that accorded the dance form a well-knit structure for the first time.
  • By G.S. Paul In "Matriarch of Mohiniyattam". The Hindu. 15 April 2011. Retrieved on 17 January 2014. 
  • The costume and jewellery of Mohiniyattam that we see today are immortal contributions of Kalamandalam.
    • Kalamandalam Sathyabhama in "Matriarch of Mohiniyattam."

External links[edit]

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