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Introduction to Mohiniyattam
Mohiniyattam, a traditional dance of Kerala, is known for its grace and beauty. It is closely related to bharathanatyam and Kathakali. It is developed by the great Tamil nattuvanar (dance master) Vadivelu,one of the Thanjavur quartet . Bharatha Muni describes various vrithi-s (style) in his natyashastra. Among these mohiniyattam resembles kaisiki (graceful) style. It is a very graceful dance meant to be performed as a solo recital by female dancers.
History of Mohiniyattam
The term Mohiniattam comes from two words "Mohini" meaning a woman with a feeling of delight and "Aattam" meaning graceful body movements. The word meaning of Mohiniyattam is dance of enchantress. There is a story of Lord Vishnu taking on the guise of a mohini to attract people, both in connection with the shaking of the milk ocean and killing of Bhasmasura.
Earlier days Mohiniyattam was performed only in temples. Swathi Thirunal, Irayimman Thampi and Kuttikunju Thankachi had made a very good contribution to Mohiniyattam. Mahakavi Vallathol Narayana Menon saved Mohiniyattam from its extinction.
Costumes of Mohiniyattam
Mohiniyattam has simple costumes and makeup which is semi realistic. The costume in Mohiniyattam dance comprises of a white kasavu saree, a decorated blouse and a waist garment. The edges are embroidered with golden fabric know as kasavu kara. The makeup is simple. The face is treated with yellow and pink coloured paste. The eyes are given a lining of black colour. The lips are reddened. The hair is neatly tied up and jasmine flowers are worn over it. Mohiniyattam is marked by its use of gold jewellery. The ornament consists of necklaces, 'vanki' (armband), 'odinayanan' (waistband), nose stud and 'jhumiki' (swinging ear ornaments). Necklaces are basically of two types: 'mangamalai' and 'Kasumalai'.
Essential ideas about Mohiniyattam
Mohiniyattam involves the gentle movements of erect posture from side to side and swaying of hips. Approximately there are 40 different basic movements, known as 'adavukal', in Mohiniyattam. The dancer's eyes play very important role in accenting the direction of the dance movement.
The main expression that is explored in mohiniyattam is Sringara. The main theme for Mohiniyattam is the love towards the God thereby showing feminine love. The God always chosen is either Vishnu or Krishna. The chant of Mohiniyattam is called Cholkettu. Jathiswaram, Varnam, Padam and Thillana are some of the other items used in Mohiniyattam play. The musical instruments used in mohiniyattam are Mridangam, Violin, Veena and Edakka. The vocal music of Mohiniyattam involves variations in rhythmic structure known as chollu. The lyrics for the songs are written in Manipravalam, which is a combination of Malayalam and Sanskrit. If you get a chance it is always worth watching the performance of Mohiniyattam.
Well known Mohiniyattam Dancers
The contemporary well known Mohiniyattam dancers are Kalamandalam Kalyanikutty Amma, Kalamandalam Sathyabhama , Chinnammu Amma, Bharathi Sivaji, Kanak Rele, Deepti balla, Pallavi Krishnan.