Practice does make a man perfect, but mohiniyattom exponent Neena Prasad thinks otherwise. “If you believe rehearsals alone can bring out the best in an artiste, you are mistaken, because to be a complete exponent of a classical art form, you require immense dedication and researches. I trust that time is another factor. Perfection is nearer the longer and the quality time you dedicate yourself to the art form,” she says.
Neena has made a mature approach to dance and she believes Mohiniyattom is a ‘tapasya.’ She is an epitome of the beautiful blend of skill, dedication and involvement. Having achieved proficiency in Bharatanatyam, Mohiniyattom and Kathakali, Neena Prasad was awarded PhD from Rabindra Bharathi University for her thesis on ‘The concepts of lasya and tandava in the classical dances of South India’. “Mohiniyattom, in my opinion, epitomises the best blend of lasya and rhythm. With its swaying movements, it recreates the gentle landscape of God’s own country, making it truly distinct and different from any other dance form in the country,” says the danseuse who was also awarded a post doctoral research fellowship from the AHRB Research Centre for Cross Cultural Music and Dance Performance, University of Surrey.
Her stringent training under Kalamandalam Kshemavathy and Kalamandalam Sugandhi, as she says, moulded her into a sensitive performer and a versatile teacher. “These days performances keep me busy, but I do make it a point to spare quality time for my students at Sougandhika in Thiruvananthapuram and Chennai. Many have shared their interest in extending my dance school to Kozhikode where I have witnessed a genuine clan which is interested in classical arts. But, as of now, I haven’t decided upon anything and wide tutorings are not possible at this point of time. These days I give training to students who have real dedication and passion.’’
Neena Prasad, who has graced many an event like the Konark Dance Festival, Dhauli Festival, Orissa, Ellor Festival and Ananya festival, New Delhi, finds Kozhikode an ‘interesting’ platform. “An artiste’s level of comfort depends on her comfort level during performances. She needs a genuine response as backing and this is something we won’t get everywhere. I have been to the city scores of times before, and what pulls me here again is undoubtedly the presence of mind, deep knowledge and interest of the gathering here,’’ she adds.
Of late, the artiste is working on her debut book which is yet to be titled. “The work will be a complete study about Mohiniyattom and will be helpful, I believe, to hardcore disciples of the art form,’’ she says.