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Mohiniyattam Dance Form


Recently, the Classical dance legend Kanak Rele and the Mohiniyattam (classical dance form from the state of Kerala) exponent, who was awarded the first Guru Gopinath National Puraskaram of the Government of Kerala passed away.


GS I: Art and Culture

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Mohiniyattam Dance Form
  2. History of Mohiniyattam
  3. Salient Features of Mohiniyattam

Mohiniyattam Dance Form

  • Mohiniyattam is a classical dance form from Kerala state and is considered as one of the eight principal Indian classical dances.
  • It is a popular dance form that involves drama in dance, performed with subtle gestures and footwork.

History of Mohiniyattam

  • The dance form is believed to have originated in the 2nd or 3rd century A.D. or in the middle of the 18th century in the court of Maharaja Svati Tirunal of Travancore.
  • Mohiniyattam acquired its affinity with Bharata Natyam technique and Karnatak music in Swati Tirunal’s court.
  • During colonial times, the dance was suppressed but was revived during the national independence movement by V.N. Menon.

Salient Features of Mohiniyattam

  • Mohiniyattam is characterized by graceful, swaying body movements with no abrupt jerks or sudden leaps, and belongs to the Lasya style which is feminine, tender, and graceful.
  • The most characteristic element of the dance form is the circular or spiral movement of all the limbs of the body, which resembles the movement of a pendulum and is called aandolika.
  • The movements are emphasized by glides and the up and down movement on toes, resembling the waves of the sea and the swaying of coconut, palm trees, and paddy fields.
  • The footwork is rendered softly, and importance is given to the hand gestures and Mukhabhinaya with subtle facial expressions.
  • The dance form lays emphasis on acting and gives ample opportunity for facial expressions through compositions like Padams and Pada Varnams.
  • The hand gestures, 24 in number, are mainly adopted from Hastalakshana Deepika, a text followed by Kathakali, and a few from Natya Shastra, Abhinaya Darpana, and Balarambharatam.
  • The gestures and facial expressions are closer to the natural (gramya) and realistic (lokadharmi) than to the dramatic or rigidly conventional (natyadharmi).
  • The vocal music incorporates different rhythms, and the lyrics of many compositions are in Manipravala, a mix of Sanskrit and Malayalam language while the music style is Carnatic.
  • Instruments played during a Mohiniyattam performance usually comprise Kuzhitalam or cymbals, Veena, Idakka, an hourglass-shaped drum, Mridangam, a barrel-shaped drum with two heads.

-Source: The Hindu


December 2023