Mohiniattam is one of the eight classical dance forms of India. It is as unique to Kerala as Kathakali.
This dance manifests the ethereal charm of femininity in an inimitable style. The danseuse moves like the tender, green shoots of paddy swaying in the gentle breeze, her body expressing the charm and beauty of womanhood.

Mohiniattam was first danced by Maha-Vishnu when he appeared in his female form 'Mohini', hence its name. The enchanting femininity enthralled the demonic Asuras. Beguiling them she took away the pot of ‘Amruth’, the divine nectar of immortality.

In costume that is elegant in its simplicity and tastefully bejewelled Mohini, the divine dancer renders a picture of the eternal woman with gentle grace. Languid in execution Mohiniattam is the sublimation of the ‘lasya’ bhava. It is the dance of the enchantress yet never a representation of the temptress.

Mohiniattam was once the domain of Devadasis or temple dancers. These highly talented women were held in great esteem. Time played them a cruel hand and they were reduced to dancers at the courts of kings and still later they were relegated to the status of concubines. The art however survived and the sustained efforts of the celebrated Malayalam poet Vallathol Narayana Menon and the legendary Kalamandalam Kalyanikutty Amma revived it and removed all stigma.

Once again Mohini dances with the abandon of the true artist!

Mohiniattam does more justice to the guidelines of ‘Hastalakshana Deepika’ while following the rules of ‘Natyashastra’. This dance form is quite different from the other Indian classical dances. It incorporates elements of Kathakali while infusing a subtle femininity into the movements which are supple and languid, and quite unlike the vigorous movements of the other classical forms like Bharathanatyam, Kuchipudi or Kathak. The dancer sways as do the palms, she flows undulating like brooks or streams and she weaves her spell upon the viewer.

It was just such a spell that led Manjula to choose Mohiniattam as her medium. She feels a resonance of her personality in the art.     



© Manju Mohiniattam 2011