Mohiniyattam

January 8, 2014

Mohiniyattam is a classical dance form of Kerala was first performed by women in temples over a thousand years ago, as an offering to God, their beloved. The word Mohini means a maiden who steals the heart of the onlooker. It is thought that Vaishnava devotees gave the name of Mohiniattam to this dance perfomance. Legend says that Lord Vishnu took on the guise of a Mohini, the arch enchantress, to enthrall people. The movements may appear simple, but effort is required to capture the grace, suggestive of ocean waves, as seen in goddess Mohini, the Enchantress. This dance form exudes enchantment grace and passion. Mohiniyattam is a fusion of ‘ Bharathanatyam ‘ and ‘ Kathakali ‘, as it combines the graceful elegance of Bharatanatyam and dynamism and vigour of Kathakali. The performances are done only by women. In Mohiniyattam, the Lasya element of dancing is predominant, and the mood created is Sringaram (erotic) Mohiniyattam literally means the ‘Dance of the Temptress’.

Mohiniyattam involves delicate footsteps and subtle expressions. The movements are graceful and the costumes are sober and attractive. Mohiniattam follows the Hastha Lakshanadeepika, a textbook for Mudras. The vocal music for Mohiniattam is classical Carnatic.

The basic dance steps of Mohiniattam are the Adavus – Taganam, Jaganam, Dhaganam and Sammisram. Mohiniattam maintains a realistic makeup and simple dressing.

Mohiniyattam (the dance of the enchantress) is the gracefully elegant classical dance form with lasya as the predominant element. The dancer is dressed in white and gold. The hair is gathered and put up at the side of the head and adorned with jasmine, in the traditional style. The entire technique in Mohiniyattam is of a graceful, gliding movement of the body, a circular use of the torso and a revolving in the half-bent position with the toe and heel used in a flowing rhythmic structure.