Endowed with an extremely charming stage personality, Bharati Shivaji is a versatile dancer who has been trained by celebrated Gurus of Mohiniattam. She has made intensive study of this dance form and has revived old and rare repertoires. She is a leading exponent who has created a special place for Mohiniattam in the world of dance.
Shiva Ashtapadi is a rare composition in which Parvati is the Nayika. She here describes her own predicament which is paradoxical. Shiva lives within her yet she pines for him. Loveladen she feels that her tears are the waters of Ganga on Shiva’s head and if she waits and pines, its only because of Shiva’s ash laden figure within her body.
Padam – Prana Nayaka
Dr. Kanak Rele
The grandmaster of Mohiniattam and dance academician Dr. Kanak Rele has dedicated her life towards performing teaching and research of Mohiniattam. Trained in Kathakali and Mohiniattam by legendary Gurus, Kanak Rele through her in-depth research has taken Mohiniattam to new heights. She has endeavored to introduce new themes, innovative approach and choreographic techniques to this dance form. As a result Mohiniattam is no more regional dance form but has gained universal appeal.
The Padam, Prana Nayaka, describes the agony of the lovelorn maiden, who awaits the arrival of her beloved. But inbtead of him, her best friend arrives. She opens her heart to her friend. The Padam is a composition of Maharaja Swati Thirunal.
Aaj Aaye Shyam
Kalamandalam Leelamma is one of the finest exponents of Mohiniattam. Initiation into this dance form at an early age by gurus Kalamandalam Satyabhama, Bhaskar and Chandrika enabled her to attain excellence in facial expression as well as mastery over Karanas. She performs the Hindi verse written by Maharaja Swati Thirunal. The dancer recollects her sweet memories of Krishna’s arrival in her dream for playing ‘Raas’.
Kalamandalam Hymavati is one of the outstanding dancers trained in the prestigious institute, Kerala Kalamandalam. She received special training in Mukhabhinaya from Gurus, Kalamandalam Satyabhama and Kalamandalam Padmini. For this VCD she has chosen the poem “Achanum Magalum” written by Mahakavi Vallattol. Muni Vishwamitra meets Shakuntala and her son Sarvadaman in a forest. Unable to recognize her as his own daughter, Vishwamitra her what brought her to the forest. Shakuntala narrates her story of being raised in Rishi Kanva’s ashram and how the king Dushyanta deserted her. Vishwamitra is enraged and wants to kill Dushyanta. But Shankuntala stops him by telling him that she was deserted by her own parents immediately after birth. And now the husband has done the same. As this was her destiny and she may now be reduced to live a life of widow. These words build compassion in Vishwamitra who is humbled.
Kalamandalam Kshemavati Kshemavati has evolved an outstanding Mohiniattam dancer and an excellent teacher. Kshemavati was raised in an artistic environment and she imbibed the best traditions from an early age. Her dance represents her purity of style and sensitive Abhinaya. Omanathingal is the famous lullaby of Iryaman Thamphi, which he composed for the infant Swati Thirunal. This is a song sung in every Malayali household for the infants even today.
Deepti Omchery Bhalla
Melodious voice and sound technique are her forte in music. Stylistic purity and aesthetic beauty are the features of her dance. Dr. Deepti Omchery Bhalla has had the privilege of being trained by the veteran Mohiniattam exponent Kalamandalam Kalyani Kuttiamma. Daru Varnam is a traditional composition, which describes Shiva, and the devotion of the ascetics of Himalayas towards him.
Artist Of Kerala Kalamandalam
Despite being a musical form, Tillana has a greater pride of place in the world of dance. The Tillana showcased in this DVD is a composition of the Tanjore Quartette and has been performed by young students of Kerala Kalamandalam.
Choreographed By Dr. Kanak Rele
This is an excerpt from a story of Panchatantra by Vishnu Sharma. Kanchan Mrig or the golden deer is willing to scarifies his life in order to save others. The story has contemporary relevance giving us the message of equanimity. Dr. Kanak Rele has employed the technique of Mohiniattm in an innovative manner to tell this story.
Mohiniattam literally interpreted as a dance of Mohini, the celestial enchantress of Hindu mythology, is a female classical solo dance of Kerala, though in the past men were also known to have been its exponents. Noted for its graceful and sensuous movements with no terse footwork, Mohiniattam reminds us of the gentle swaying of green paddy fields and coconut palms of the fairy landscape.
The origin of Mohiniattam can be traced to certain female temple dancers known as Thali Nankass. Thali means temple, Nankas means the beautiful dancers. The art of the Nankas was collectively called Avayavam suggesting that their songs, dance an instrumental playing were parts of elaborate temple rituals.
These Nankas had three levels of status: the Uttama or the Kriyangis who were treated like the Goddess herself and only assisted ritualistic services of the Sanctum; the Madhyama or the Sevangis who sang and danced during socio-religious services only with in the temple precincts and the Adhama, the Dasyangis who performed at the outskirts during temple processions.
During the dark age when all temple and temple arts came to a standstill the Uttamas were the first to become extinct, the Madhyamas married the kings and rich patrons while the Adhamas for their survival mingled with the Devadasis of other religions provided mundane entertainment to the ordinary public.
This sad state of the female dancers continued till the reign of Maharaja kartika Thirunal, the versatile king of Travancore who recreated the dance under a new identity called Mohiniattam. Most of the original repertoire of Mohiniattam has either been lost or forgotten. The metrical based Champus and other Kavya composed prior to 14th century reveal an all night performed of Mohiniattam.
Mohiniattam reached its Zenith during the region of Maharaja Swati Thirunal who transformed the remains of this sacred temple tradition into a rich palace tradition. He introduced new changes in the costume, make up and dance technique. The repertoire included Collu Kattu, Pada Varnam, Padam, Thillana and Javali composed mostly by the king himself. This dance form once again fell into disrepute with the early demise of Swati Thirunal. It was the pioneering and dedicated efforts of poet Vallattol who established the Karala Kala Mandalam thatonce again this enchanting form was revived. He was supported by dancers and teachers like Guru Krishna Panikker, Kalyani Amma, Achyutan Nayar, Chinnamrau Amma, Kunjan Panikker and still later by Thankamani Gopinath and Kalamandalam Kalyani Kutti Amma.
The captivating charm of Mohiniattam is enhanced by the gold brocaded white costume, gold jewellery the hair tied into a bun on one side of the head adorned with white flowers and simple make-up.
The music though based on Carnatic ragas and talas has the essence of the Sopana traits of ragas and talas typical of the music of Kerala.the orchestra also has changed from Toppi Maddalam Kuzhal, tippi to Maddalam, Mridangam, Veena and violin. Edaikka is the only common instrument to the old orchestra and the new musical support.
The spellbinding charm of this style has attracted many dancers from even outside the state of Kerala. Today this dance has emerged as one of the most enchanting dance forms both in India and abroad.
Hindi Translation: Irfan
Introduction: Dr. Neena Prasad
Photographs: Avinash Pasricha & DD Archives
Project Director: L.D. Mandloi
Devised & Designed by: Kamalini Dutt
Associates: Ved M Rao & Kali Prasad
Shiva Ashtapadi – Bharati Shivaji
Padam – Prana Nayaka – Dr. Kanak Rele
Aaj Aaye Shyam – Kalamandalam Leelamma
Achanum Magalum – Kalamandalam Hymavati
Omanathingal – Kalamandalam Kshemavati
Daru Varnam – Deepti Omchery Bhalla
Tillana – Artistes Of Kerala Kalamandalam
Kanchan Mrig – Choeregraphed By Dr. Kanak Rele