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Mohiniyattam (Classical Dance from Kerala)

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About Mohiniyattam Dance

Mohiniattam or Mohiniyattam is an Indian Classical dance style that originated in the state of Kerala, India, and is noted as one of the two famous dance forms of the state, the other is Kathakali. Although it roots back to the traditional and ancient Hindu and Sanskrit text on performing arts like ‘Natya Shastra’, similar to many other Indian classical dance forms, Mohiniattam follows the Lasye form, exhibiting oodles of grace, feminine and gentler dance styles and forms.

What does Mohiattam mean?

The word Mohiniattam is derived from ‘Mohini’, which means Lord Vishnu’s female avatar. Traditionally, a solo dance performed by female dancers, it depicts a play through singing and dancing where the song is quintessentially Manipravala, which in turn is a blend of Malayalam and Sanskrit language, and the recitation is either done by the vocalist or the dancer herself with the Carnatic music type.

From where did it evolve and how did it got popularized?

Mohiattam is said to have rooted from India’s Kerala and is also believed to have associations with the ancient Lasya dancing styles. The sculptures in Kerala’s temples are the earliest known testaments of the dance and similar forms of it.

Mohiniattam evolved further as a popular art form during the 18th and 19th centuries, courtesy to the various princely state’s patronage. The Maharaja of Travancore Kingdom, a ripping music composer and poet’s art contributions witnessed the gradual evolvement and development of present day’s Mohiniattam.

The Repertoire

Presently, Mohiattam’s repertoire adheres to two categorical performance namely Nritya and Nritta. The dance style follows the Lasya style and showcases excellence Ekaharya Abhinaya style, in other words an expressive and solo dance art complimented with songs and music.

Costumes Worn

The performers clad an off-white or white plain simple sari with gold-laced and vivid golden brocade embroidered in the borders complemented with a blouse and choli.

She further accessorizes with musical anklet known as ‘ghungru’, followed by accessories at ear, neck, fingers, head, and wrists. Face makeup is usually light with a Hindu tikka right on the center part of the forehead. The hair is tied on the right side of the head and is adorned with jasmine.

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