Mohiniyattam Dance is one of the most beautiful dance forms of Kerala. Also called Mohiniyattam, this dance form has close resemblances with Bharathnatyam.Mohiniyattam Dance in Kerala which originally practiced by Devdasis in the strict confinements of the temple. Through this dance a woman expressed her love which could be carnal, devotional as well as maternal.The dance which has influences and elements from two South Indian dance forms, the Bharatanatyam and Kathakali, was formulated in the court of king Swati Tirunal by Vadivelu, one of the Thanjavur Quartet. The dance involves the swaying of broad hips and the gentle movements of erect torso from side to side.Mohiniyattam also spelled as mohiniaattam, mohiniattom or mohiniyattam; Malayalam: is a traditional South Indian dance form from Kerala, India. Usually, the theme of Mohiniattam dance is "sringara" or love. Subtle subjects of love are executed with suggestive abhinaya, subtle gestures, rhythmic footwork and lilting music. The legend of Vishnu as "Mohini", (the enchantress) forms the core of Mohiniattam dance.The distinctive style of Mohiniattam is the complete absence of heavy stamping and rhythmical tension. Footwork in Mohiniattam is gentle and soft and sliding. The movements are never abrupt, they are dignified, easy and natural, but the vertical line of the body is never broken. Hence, among the styles detailed by Bharata Muni in the ancient Indian treatise on dance, the Natya Sastra, Mohiniattam resembles the Kaisiki type meaning graceful. Various teachers and Gurus kept the Mohiniattam dance tradition alive by their efforts. In 1930, Mahakavi Valathol founded Kerala Kala Mandalam and along with Kathakali he included Mohiniattam so as to revive the dance form. The first dancer was Kalyaniamma. She also taught in Shantiniketan under Rabindranath Tagore's invitation. They have been likened to the sway of palm leaves in the gentle breeze.

Once Mohiniyattam was performed only in Temples premises and royal courts. The first reference to Mohiniyattam is found in 'Vyavaharamala' composed by Mazhamangalam Narayanan Namboodiri, of 16th century AD. Major contributions to this art form were given by Maharaja Swathi Thirunal, Irayimman Thampi and Kuttikunju Thankachi.It is only in recent times in the 20th century that Mohiniattam has spread all over India and abroad. Mohiniattam is essentially a solo form of dance.The performers of Mohiniattam dance usually wear an off-white colored sari with gold brocade borders. Hairs of the dancer are gathered in a bun and decorated with jasmine flowers. The Mohiniattam dancer is adorned with Gold Jewellery including necklaces, bangles, waistbands and anklets. The tinkling of the Jewellery produces music as the dancer performs the dance. Mohiniattam dance is accompanied by musical instruments like violin, Veena and Mridangam and the dancer narrates episodes from the epics and legends through elegant steps, rhythmic movements of her arms and amazing facial expressions. To make Mohiniattam a distinctive and attractive art form he composed a number of pieces called varnams and padams and made the music of this art form lyrically rich and attractive. He brought about reforms and improvements in the style and included Mohiniattam recitals in festive celebrations.



The first reference to Mohiniattam has been found in 'Vyavaharamala', composed by Mazhamangalam Naryanam Namboodiri, assigned to the 16th century A.D. In 19th century, Swati Thirunal, the king of erstwhile Travancore, tried to encourage the development of this dance style. After him, Mohiniattam suffered heavily, owing to the exploitation by the Satraps and the Landlords. Poet Vallathol revived it once again and gave it a prominent status throughout Kerala, through Kalamandalam, which he founded in 1930. Kalamandalam Kalyaniamma and Chinnammu Amma are the last links of a disappearing tradition that nurtured aspirants in the discipline at Kalamandalm.


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