Spending a day with Mohiniyattam

BANGALORE: A  s a part of World Dance Day, the Karnataka Sangeet Nritya Academy (KSNA) organised a National Festival of Choreography at Chowdaiah Memorial Hall recently. Shamala Sur

Published: 30th April 2012 11:34 PM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2012 10:33 PM   |  A+A-


BANGALORE: A  s a part of World Dance Day, the Karnataka Sangeet Nritya Academy (KSNA) organised a National Festival of Choreography at Chowdaiah Memorial Hall recently.

Shamala Surendaran, the artistic director of Dharani School of Performing Arts Trust, Kochi, conducted a workshop on Mohiniyattam.

Mohiniyattam seems to be highly influenced by Kathakali. While maintaining the emotional and dramatic range of the form, it is extremely lively and animated.

It is believed that this dance form is fashioned on the one performed by Vishnu, in the guise of Mohini, to protect dharma as a part of maya. Thus, the role of Mohini is that of a saviour and her dance is for celestial bliss.

The developmental history of Mohiniyattam is not very clear. It is only known that it was patronised a little over a century ago by the king of Travancore,

Maharaja Swati Tirunal.

Being a versatile composer, musician and patron, the poet-king’s resplendent darbar was adorned with a galaxy of artistes, musicians, scholars and dancers.

The one-day workshop began with the teaching of basic dance techniques of Mohiniyattam.

The description and demonstration of the different postures of the dance form were explained in detail. “Mohiniyattam has a totally different energy compared to Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi. The movements of this dance form are all rounded,” said Shamala.

Differences betweenBharatanatyam and Mohiniyattam were clearly pointed out. The form looks very deceptive but it is tiring on your knees and thighs she

further added.

Few exercises that would increase the knowledge of students were also graceful portrayed. She suggested the book ‘Hasthala Deepika’ and said that it is a must read for dancers who want to excel in Mohiniyattam.

Her concluding piece was a small tip on how each one can improve their dancing skills. “Dance for me is spiritual. It is a god gifted talent and not everyone has it. So use this talent by utilising the best resources you are provided with.”

On speaking to Vyjanthi Kashi, Chairperson of KSNA. She mentioned that this workshop was targeted at creating more awareness and understanding about the dance form among the younger generations. They are losing interest in all classical forms of dance.

“Being a dancer of Bharatanatyam and Kathak, I really did not know this particular dancer form. This workshop has really enlightened me about the intricate movements,” said Shamita, a dancer from Dharwad. There could be no better occasion than the World Dance Day for celebrating the diversity of various dance forms.

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