ABOUT MOHINIYATTAM DANCE HISTORY
Mohiniyattam Dance History – Mohiniattam is a classical dance form of Kerala. It is derived from the words “Mohini” (meaning beautiful women) and “attam”(meaning dance). Thus, Mohiniattam dance form is a beautiful feminine style with surging flow of body movements. Mohiniattam dance in Kerala developed in the tradition of Devadasi system, which later grew and developed a classical status.
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Mohiniattamis danced by women and is known for its very sensual themes. This dance form has an extremely, slow seductive quality.The dance is characterized by suggestive hand movements (mudras), rhythmic footwork and lyrical music. Mohiniattam is meant to be performed as a solo recital and is a gentle, graceful dance depicting the theme of shringar or love. Mohiniattam is believed to have originated in the 16th century but flourished from the 19th century under the patronage of the King of Travancore SwathiThirunal. It is one of India’s most loved dance forms even today.
Mohiniattam follows the HasthaLakshanadeepika, 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. There is a typical costume for Mohiniattam. It is generally simple and white, or off-white. Usually there is gold brocade, possibly with a border of red. One of the most characteristic signs of the Mohiniattam dancer is the bun of hair worn off-centre.
The myth of Mohinis central to the performance. According to the story, Brahma tells the other Gods how they can obtain amrit;amrit grants immortality and excessive power. He informs them that they can do so by stirring up the ocean of milk. Unfortunately, the job is so great that the Gods are forced to look for the support of the demons. The demons agree to help, but are secretly plotting to keep it all for them.So the crucial day finally comes. The amrit has been purified, but only after many difficulties. Vishnu finds out about the plot to steal the amrit. He knows that it would be catastrophic for the demons to obtain such powers.Vishnu decides to prevent the demons in their plans to steal the amrit. He takes the form of a beautiful celestial nymph (apsara)who disguised himself as ‘mohini’ or in other words the enchantress and did this particular dance to lure the demons away, and by way of her enamoured charms, distracts them from their plans. By means of this distraction the amrit is given to the Gods, and the world is saved from the demons.
Throughout Indian cinema, several actresses have used this dance form in classical numbers that involve dramatic face and body expressions. Along with other popular Indian dance forms like Kathak and Bharatnatyam, Mohiniattam has also gained a prominent place in institutions that promote Indian dance and music. Moreover, the Kerala Kasavusaree used in this dance has become extremely popular with women all over India and abroad. Indian actresses like AishwaryaRai and Rani Mukherjee have donned these sarees for special red carpet events and have given it a worldwide recognition.
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