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The traditional Indian dance of Mohiniattam was developed on the Malabar Coast of Southern India in the state of Kerala. The origins of this dance trace back to ancient Hindu texts, and the purpose of this dance was to ultimately depict the power of the woman as she dances in order to prevail over the evil spirits. This dance is performed by a female, and the movements are very gentle and smooth. Carnatic music, (a combination of several instruments and a sole performer) oftentimes accompanies the dancer, and the movements tell a story; a story of woman empowerment and independence.

Definitions for clarification:

Carnatic Music- A type of music common in south India

The Learning Process:

The repertoire of Mohiniattam is very similar to that of Bharatnatyam. There is no set syllabus in learning this dance as it varies from school to school but there is a general set of elements thought in learning mohiniattam.

  • Students learn basic footwork, hand gestures, and facial expression

Then the students learn the various dance components of the dance how the teacher seeks fit

These components are

  • Cholkettu - Combination of pure dance movements at the end of which is tagged a poem that is in praise of a deity and also narrates the story of the Ramayana

  • Jathiswaram - A pure dance sequence.

  • Varnam - A combination of pure and expressional dance, based on the narration of the story.

  • Padam- showcases the exaggerated dramatic component of the dance as has this element incorporates both facial gestures and hand gestures.

  • Thillana – The Mohiniattam Dancers overall technical artistry of the dance is shown

Mohiniattam: Intro
Mohiniattam: Watch
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