Mohiniyattam Dance is a dance form, presented to the world by Kerala. India, a land of rich culture and a melting pot of varied forms of dance boast of eight main classical dances, of which Mohiniyattam is one. The Mohiniyattam Dance form derives its name from the word Mohini, a name having mythological significance. Mohini is the mythical enchantress incarnation of Sri Vishnu, one of the Gods in The Great Triad. Mohini is entrusted with the responsibilities of helping the good prevail over evil with the help of female power.
Like every other classical dance form in India, Mohiniyattam Dance also finds its roots in the Natya Shastra-our origin on the performing arts of India. As described in the Natya Shastra, it is known for following the Lasya style, a style full of seduction and delicate postures. It is believed that Lord Vishnu danced in this style to lure the Asuras. The repertoire of Mohiniyattam Dancce is about music in the Carnatic style and singing and acting a play with the help of dancing. The songs are usually sung in a fusion of the Malayalam and the Sanskrit language, known as the Manipravalam.
The story Mohiniyattam Dance:
Mohiniyattam Dance, also known as Mohini-attam, comes from the word Mohini. Mohini is the famous female incarnation of Lord Vishnu, according to Hindu mythology. Mohini, or the supreme seductress, is believed to appear during the battle between the devas and the Asuras, over the urn full of Amrita or nectar of immortality. She is believed to be dressed euphorically and using her charms to seduce the Asuras, convincing them to distribute the nectar among them. After she got hold of the urn, she distributed it among the gods, instead, depriving the evil of the boon of being immortal.
This is all about the story of Mohini and is an enchantress with supreme powers as per Vaishnavism. The word Aattam comes from the Malayalam language, meaning rhythmic motion or dance. Mohiniyattam Dance is thus the rhythmic dance of a beautiful woman or an enchantress to seduce the man opposite her.
History and Evolution
Bharata Muni, the author of the Natya Shastra, has laid the theoretical foundation of the Mohiniyattam Dance form, in the text. The first completed version of the text is believed to be completed between 200 BCE to 200 CE. As per the theories of the classical dance, there are two forms of dance, the Tandava, and the Lasya. The Tandava involves more vigor whereas the Lasya is more graceful and delicate. Mohiniyattam Dance follows the Lasya dance theme.
Mohiniyattam Dance has its roots in the state of Kerala, which has an association with the Lasya style of dancing. The temple sculptures in the state exhibit the earliest style of Mohiniattam and other similar styles of dancing. The various poses of the dance are also clear from the feminine sculptures, that are present in the ancient temples, especially the Vishnu Temple at Trikodithanam and the Kidangur Subramanya temple. After this, a book called Vyavaharamala, written by the great scholar Mazhamangalam Narayanan Namboodiri, also mentions about Mohiniattam. Kunchan Nambiar also mentioned about this dance form in his 17th-century book, the Gosha Yatra. The dance form slowly evolved as a popular form of performance, especially during the 18th and 19th centuries, due to the patronage it received from the princely states. The Maharaja of the Kingdom of Travancore, Swathi Thirunal Rama Verma, a brilliant music composer, and poet, contributed in a great way in the evolution of the present-day style of Mohiniyattam Dance.
Repertoire Mohiniyattam Dance:
The repertoire of Mohiniyattam Dance comprises two dance categories of performance. They are the Nritta and the Nritya, as mentioned in Natya Shastra. As already mentioned, it follows the Lasya style, manifesting a gentle, graceful and feminine form of dancing. The dance form is about displaying excellence in Ekaharya Abhinaya or a solo dancing form, full of expressions. The dance form is complemented with songs and music. Nritta is the technical part of the performance, wherein the dancer is known to display pure movements of dance, focussing more on speed, range, pattern and rhythm. There is no enactment or interpretation associated with it. While in Nritya, the dancer-actor is responsible for communicating a story or a spiritual theme with the help of expressions as well as slow movements of the body, along with musical notes. This is the part responsible for exhibiting emotions and expressions. The sequences in the performance include the invocation or Cholkettu, Jatisvaram, Varnam, Padam, Tilana, Shlokam and Saptam.
Mohiniyattam Dance Costume:
The Mohiniyattam Dance Dress dress is an elegant exhibition of charm and beauty. The stage is decorated with a huge brass lamp, fuelled by coconut oil. It is kept on the centre of the stage and beautifies the dance form further. The dancer paints her face with a natural tint and the eyebrows and the eyes are lengthened to enhance the beauty, A large red bindi is put on the centre of the forehead to make the performer look more beautiful.
The Mohiniyattam Dance Dress is an off-white plain saree, embellished with a gold-laced or bright golden-colored brocade, embroidered on the borders. A matching blouse finishes the adornment. The front part of the saree has a pleated cloth, having saffron or golden colored bands, starting from the waist. This kind of dress is specially designed so that the wonderful poses by the feet, can be shown to the audiences. The Mohiniattam dress images, also show that the dancer is wearing a golden belt, circumnavigating her waist. The Mohiniyattam dance costume, is in every way a proper outfit for showcasing every nuance and delicacy of the dance form, to the audiences.
The Mohiniyattam costume is not complete without the proper makeup needed for the graceful performance. The feet and the fingers of the dancers are smeared with red dyes, having a natural origin. This is meant for highlighting the gestures and mudras of the hands. To put more highlight on the costume of Mohiniyattam Dance,the face makeup is not that heavy. It is light with a tika on the forehead, dark red-coloured lips and eyes, prominently lined with kajal, to showcase the eye movements. The hair is specifically tied, with the alignment towards the left side, known as the chignon hairstyle. Flowers also beautify the bun, with jasmine receiving primary importance.
Mohiniyattam Dance Accessories:
Mohiniyattam dress and ornaments, form an integral part of the Mohiniyattam dance costume. The dancer has to wear pieces of jewelry in her head, neck, ears, wrists, hair, and fingers. Anklets making sound, i.e. ghungroos are wrapped around her ankles. They are the most important accessory, used in every kind of Indian classical dance.
Where to get the dance costume and the accessories?
Are you a dance exponent? Does your kid love perform Mohiniyattam recitals? Is your kid a participant in the school annual program, where Mohiniyattam Dance is one of the performances? In all these situations, you will be needing Mohiniyattam dress and ornaments. If you are planning to buy or rent one, you will have to opt for a reliable supplier. You must have heard about Mohiniyattam costume online or Mohiniyattam costume rental. Often, the Mohiniyattam dress price is also too high and if your kid or you are not a regular performer, you may want to rent it. Various schools and college functions, planning to perform classical dance shows, may also be in need of Mohiniyattam dance dress. Are you looking for a trusted partner?
We, at Sanskriti, would like to introduce ourselves as the suppliers of the dresses as well as the accessories, needed for every kind of dance event. Buying these apparels and other accessories is often an expensive thing to do. Also, once the competition is over, the dresses get cornered to the shelves of the almirahs, for years to come. Thus, this becomes a useless investment. We have put an end to this dilemma by supplying these costumes and other accessories. You can also buy the products from us if need be.
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•Who are some of the famous dancers of Mohiniattam?
Some popular dancers of Mohiniattam are Sunanda Nair, Kalamandalam Kalyanikutty Amma, Radha Dutta, Vijayalakshmi, etc.
•What is the dressing style and jewelry pattern of Mohiniattam dance form?
The saree is draped in the same way as the Bharatnatyam dancers do, the only difference being the heavier lower portion. It is pleated in semi-circular form. The dancer performs with heavy jewelry on her, including bangles, waistbands, anklets, and necklaces. The dancer also puts her hair in a bun, aligned towards the side of the head, a jasmine garland being put around it.
•How is Mohiniattam dance performed and what are the musical instruments accompanying it?
Various musical instruments like Veena, Violin and Mridangam help the dancers to put up a spectacular performance. There is the gradual narration of episodes from the epics and the legends with the help of an awesome representation of elegant steps, rhythmic movements, and wonderful facial expressions.
•From where can we get the details of the Mohiniattam dance performance?
We can be more aware of the hands and arm movements of Mohiniattam dance from the classical text, the Hastha Lakshandeepika.