Festivals, Dances, Theatre, Literature, Art in News

In news: Mohiniyattam Dance


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Mohiniyattam and Other Classical Dance forms

Why in the News?

A popular Mohiniyattam dancer in Kerala was refused bail against her alleged casteist remarks against the SC community.

About Mohiniyattam

Name Meaning Mohini – female enchantress avatar of Vishnu;

Aattam – rhythmic motion or dance (Malayalam)

Roots Natya Shastra, ancient Hindu Sanskrit text on performance arts
Style Lasya Style – delicate, eros-filled, and feminine
Performers Traditionally women, but men also perform in contemporary times
Music Includes Carnatic music, singing, and enactment of plays through dance
Language Manipravalam: a Malayalam-Sanskrit hybrid
Posture Parted feet, gentle swaying of body, soft footwork synchronized with music beats
Gestures Follow the classical text of Hastha Lakshanadeepika with elaborate mudras (hand gestures)
Costumes Plain white or off-white sarees with golden brocade, pleated sheets for freedom of movement, adorned with jewellery
Accessories Jewellery on fingers, wrists, neck, and ears, ankle bells (for female performers), dhotis and similar accessories (for male performers)
Makeup Natural with brilliant red lips, tikka (Gobi) on the forehead, lined eyes
Music Various rhythms and compositions in Manipravalam, accompanied by instruments like Mridangam, Idakka, flute, Veena, and Kuzhitalam
Ragas Rendered in the Sopana Style, a slow melodic style rooted in the Natya Shastra

Back2Basics: Classification of Classical Dances in India

Classical Dance Form Origin Key Features
Bharatanatyam Tamil Nadu
  • Ekaharya style with one dancer portraying multiple roles.
  • Intricate footwork, hand gestures (mudras), and facial expressions.
  • Traditional repertoire includes Alarippu, Jatiswaran, Shabda, Varna, Pada, Thillana, and Sloka.
  • Accompanied by the orchestra and conducted by Nattuvanar
Kathak North India
  • Derived from the word “Katha,” meaning story
  • The blend of storytelling, footwork, and rhythmic patterns
  • The strong influence of Mughal and Persian culture
  • Solo performances with an emphasis on footwork and straight-legged movements
Kathakali Kerala
  • A blend of dance, music, and acting
  • Elaborate makeup, costumes, and headgear
  • Enacts stories from Indian epics with specific facial colors for characters
  • Importance of hand gestures, facial expressions, and eye movements
Kuchipudi Andhra Pradesh
  • Originated in Kuchipudi village, Andhra Pradesh
  • Dance-drama form with solo and group performances
  • Emphasis on storytelling, costumes, and ornaments
  • Includes solo items like Manduka Shabdam and Balgopala Taranga
Odissi Odisha
  • Based on stories of Lord Vishnu and verses of Jayadeva’s Gita Govinda
  • Soft dance style with mudras and expressions similar to Bharatanatyam incorporates postures like Tribhanga and Chowk
  • Eminent performers include Sonal Mansingh and Kelucharan Mohapatra
Sattriya Assam
  • Introduced by Vaishnava saint Sankaradeva for propagation of Vaishnava faith
  • Strictly governed by principles in hasta mudras, footwork, and costumes
  • Repertoire includes Bhaona-related and independent dance numbers
  • Prominent forms include Chali and Jhumura
Manipuri Manipur
  • Associated with rituals, festivals, and creation myths
  • Lai Haraoba is the earliest form, reenacts the creation of the world
  • Rasleela dances originated in 18th-century Manipur
  • Popular forms include Ras, Sankirtana, and Thang-Ta with Kirtan accompaniment



[2012] How do you distinguish between Kuchipudi and Bharatanatyam dances?

  1. Dancers occasionally speak dialogues is found in Kuchipudi dance but not in Bharatanatyam.
  2. Dancing on the brass plate by keeping the feet on its edges is a feature of Bharatanatyam but Kuchipudi dance does not have such a form of movement.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

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