Dance is the language of expressions and emotions.
India is home to different art forms; Mohiniyattam is one among them. It is also known as the dance of enchantress. This dance is performed by women in honor of the Hindu god Vishnu in his incarnation as the enchantress Mohini.
I have been practicing this art form for the past 12 years. In my childhood, I didn’t have much interest in learning any of the dance forms. But unfortunately, I was forced to witness Mohiniyattam in a show. That’s where the spark of learning dance got ignited in me. The beats of toppi mandalam and vina took over my heart completely.
This art form is a composition of hand, leg, and facial gestures. In other words, mudras are descriptions for this dance. Mohiniyattam is lasya subgenre of dance. Which means graceful performance.
The dance includes nritta, nrithya, and Natya. Nritta means pure movement with no storyline. Whereas nrithya means attempting to communicate a storyline through expression and emotions.
This dance projects the essence of feminine grace through its deliciated footsteps, swaying body movements, and poignant facial expressions. Yet like other dance forms, it’s also known for its Nava rasa. The whole piece is accompanied by various Carnatic ragas. The dance was said to begin in the 16th century; the dance took solid form only in the 18th century.
When you are dancing you can be anyone – costumes
Costumes play a vital role in highlighting this art. The dancers wear white saree with golden borders. A pleated piece of attire is added in front to enhance the grace of the dress.
To further boost their beauty, they wear 50 coin golden kasumalai on the neck and elakathaali on their waist to spotlight the front pleats. Kodai jimikki, golden bangles and salangai adds rhythm to the elegance.
The bindi is the most iconic ornament of mohiniyattam; The eye is masked exotically with kajal and winged eyeliners. The dancer steals the hearts of the audience with their poetic eye expressions.
As said earlier, this form is an art of expression; the eyes are the reason behind it. Other jewels, like nose pin and ear chain, personifies look efficiently.
The bright red Mehandi on the hands and legs develops a spell-bounding conversation with the environment. The head is further crowned with strings of jasmine flower and billai.
I could recall every detail of those dancers who caught my attention. That very moment I decided myself to learn this dance form. When I wore all of them and started to dance.
Unknowingly I unleashed the femineity in me. I haven’t stopped here; my thirst for learning art forms continues. Thanks to those dancers for incorporating this interest in me.