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Mohiniattam, the female semi-classical dance

Discussion in 'Music and Dance' started by padmaiyangar, Oct 13, 2007.

  1. padmaiyangar

    padmaiyangar Bronze IL'ite

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    Mohiniattam, the female semi-classical dance
    <HR style="COLOR: #ffffff" SIZE=1>Mohiniattam, the female semi-classical dance form of Kerala is said to be older than Kathakali. Literally, the dance of the enchantress, Mohiniattam was mainly performed in the temple precincts of Kerala.

    The word 'Mohini' means a maiden who exerts desire or steals the heart of the onlooker. There is a well known story of Lord Vishnu taking on the guise of a 'Mohini' to enthrall people, both in connection with the churning of the milk ocean and with the episode of slaying of Bhasmasura. Thus it is thought that Vaishnava devotees gave the name of Mohiniattam to this dance form.

    The theme of Mohiniattam is love and devotion to god. Vishnu or <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:smarttags" /><st1:place>Krishna</st1:place> is more often the hero. The spectators could feel his invisible presence when the heroine or her maid details dreams and ambitions through the circular movements, delicate footsteps and subtle expressions. The dancer in the slow and medium tempos is able to find adequate space for improvisations and suggestive bhavas.

    It is essentially a solo dance, but in present times it is performed in groups also. The repertoire of Mohiniattam follows beginning with Cholkettu, the dancer performs Jathiswaram, Varnam, Padam and Thillana in a concert. Varnam combines pure and expressional 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.

    Mohiniattam maintains a realistic makeup and simple dressing. The dancer is attired in the beautiful white and gold bordered Kasavu saree of Kerala.
    Mohiniattam like many other forms follows the Hastha Lakshanadeepika, as a text book for Mudras, or hand gestures.

    The style of vocal music for Mohiniattam as is generally seen, is classical Carnatic. The lyrics composed by Maharaja Swati Tirunal and Irayimman Thampi are in Manipravala (a mixture of Sanskrit and Malayalam). Till recently, Thoppi Maddalam and Veena provided the background music of Mohiniattam. These have been replaced in recent years by Mridangam and Violin.

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  2. puni88

    puni88 Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Thanks for sharing this info.
    I really loved to watch this dance.

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