'Mohiniyattam a Dance of Feminine Prowess' - The New Indian Express

'Mohiniyattam a Dance of Feminine Prowess'

Published: 07th January 2014 09:48 AM

Last Updated: 07th January 2014 09:48 AM

Vijayalakshmi has enough and more reasons to fall in love with mohiniyattam. The Kerala dance form was introduced to this Tamil-born and Delhi brought-up danseuse by her mother Bharathi Shivaji.

Nevertheless, if the history of mohiniyattam is to be traced out or written, the contributions of this renowned dancer would never be missed out. And in Vijayalakshmi’s words, “The greatest boon in my life is this special identity of being the daughter of Bharathi Shivaji. Vijayalakshmi was in the state recently for a mohiniyattam performance.

But the dancer is not one you would presume to welcome ‘anything’ and ‘anyone’ in dance. “I believe this form of dance is soaked in femininity. So, this can be performed best only by women. When there are so many female mohiniyattam dancers around, why should male dancers follow it,” she smiles. But that doesn’t make her go against male dancers in general. “I have always been in awe of many of the exquisite performances by some of the male dancers. Some, I believe, outlive the capacities of women too, which is remarkably appreciable. But even then I believe there is a soul in the classical dance form, which is completely feminine in quality.”

Mohiniyattam male dancers may be just a few in number compared to their presence in other classical forms. But Vijayalakshmi feels, this is a ‘threat’. “I really believe things can go wrong if the emotions intended to convey in a dance do not serve their purpose. Just as they say, some tasks are not idle for men, I believe extreme classical dance forms like mohiniyattam are not suitable for men,” she smiles.

Belonging to the current generation of mohiniyattam dancers, Vijayalakshmi is hailed as one of the most eminent exponents of this dance form today. She has received much applause with her innovated explorations in mohiniyattam, whereby she presented fresh choreographies by drawing upon both contemporary and traditional themes. Her one such production was ‘Unniyarcha,’ which is a thorough inspiration from ‘Vadakkan Pattukal’. “This was an innovation of a singular kind in the field of mohiniyattam, where for the very first time elements of Kalaripayattu were incorporated into mohiniyattam,” she explains.

Going down memory lane, the danseuse says she has fresh memories of her mother and grandmother accompanying her on stage. “There was one particular performance I still remember in which me and amma danced to the tunes of my grandmother who was a classical singer. These days even my daughter has begun to tread our steps. We are planning a performance where  she and myself can accompany my mother.”

The danseuse is also in the process of writing a complete book about mohiniyattam along with her mother. “The book will be a complete treasure for a true classical enthusiast. It will be informative to even a toddler in mohiniyattam,” she says.

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