Mohiniaattam is a classical dance that adopts a mean between the two parallel streams of classical dances – Bharatanaatyam and kathakali – in technique and style, both fixed according to Naatya Shastra, the scriptures of the Indian classical tradition.

The fusion is remarkable because the effect created by the blending of the graceful elegance of Bharatanaatyam with the earthy vigour and dynamism of kathakali has a subtle, seductive appeal that is at once charming and alluring. Mohiniaattam essentially is a solo dance form performed by females. However, there has been instances of three or more girls jointly performing nritta or pure dance items. Though males never used to perform there were male teachers who taught Mohiniaattam. The teacher is called Naattuvan. Literally, Mohiniaattam means the dance of the enchantress. It is believed that, Bharata, the author of Naatya Shastra, learnt the various arts from Lord Brahma himself, the God of creation, and imparted it to his one hundred and five sons. They in turn taught the rest. Costumes of Mohiniaattam The costume used by Mohiniaattam dancers is not very different from the traditional or natural dress of the Kerala women. It consists of a nine yard saree, beautifully and profusely pleated that it looks more like a skirt than a saree. A matching blouse is worn. A small fan like piece is worn a little below the waist over the skirt. A melaak or covering piece is worn over the blouse sometimes. The Mohiniaattam dancers, matching with their costume and traditions, also took a penchant for gold ornaments. Earrings like Kadukkan, Koda Kadukkan and Thoda are worn. Kaashumaala, the long necklace with Lakshmi coins is popular with the dancers. Short necklace like Poothaali, Illaka Thaali, Naagapada Thaali, Mullamottumaala, etc. are also worn. Rings on the fingers, bangles like Katakam and Valayam, ornaments for the waist like Udyaanam, Ellas and Kingini and anklets of different design are a part of the adornment too. Besides, certain ornaments like Netti Chutti and Soorya chandram are also worn by the dancers. Netti Chutti is ornamented along the middle parting of the hair, the pendant of which lies on the upper forehead. An inch away from the Netti Chutti or forehead

especially so in Mohiniaattam where it is . Violin or Flute are used. Mohiniaattam dancers have a very attractive way of styling their hair. softer instruments are more suited to depict the delicate sentiments. in the sopaanam style. many new items have been choreographed by the present day Mohiniaattam dancers. The eyes are blackened with kohl. There ornaments. This method of hair style is traditional to the women of Kerala. Jathiswaram. Tillaana and Slokam. on either side are the soorrya or the right side and chandra on the left side representing the sun and the moon. A red pottu (rounded red mark) – on the forehead is a typical Indian sign of auspicious feminity. Kuzhithaalam (a small size cymbal). Padam. Slokam as an item could be performed any where. Edakka is an hour glass shaped percussion instrument used in the temples of Kerala. It could also be performed along with one of the items of the above mentioned Mohiniaattam repertoire. Thoppimaddalam is replaced Mridangam. made of red stones or temple jewellery represents the Devadaasi tradition of the south. Varnam. The main emotion in Mohiniaattam is Sringaara or the sentiment of love is an important aspect of all Indian classical dancers. or at the end. Musical Instruments of Mohiniaattam The music of Mohiniaattam is. as a separate item. These instruments are used as accompaniments to vocal music. in the middle. It is used as sruthi (subtle tones). Thuti and Edakka. after the revival of Mohiniaattam during this century. The present Mohiniaattam repertoire consists of Cholkettu. The Repertoire The repertoire of Mohiniaattam follows closely that of Bharata Naatyam. White jasmine flowers are used to adorn the bun. Mohiniaattam being a feminine form. Veena. brows are pencilled and the lips are reddened with lipstik. The entire hair is gathered upwards towards the left side of the head and tied up like a bun. Today. respectively. It is made out of animal membrane and played with a stick. as in kathakali. rouge on the cheek and well powdered.ornament. The main accompaniments were Thoppimaddalam. in the beginning. The facial make up of the dancers consists of a coat of natural or beige coloured base. Edakka and Maddalam are utilized to enhance the rhythmic effect. Instead of a Mukhaveena. Mukhaveena (a wind insrument) . It is said that earlier Mohiniaattam dancers enjoyed a wide repertoire but during the period of decline of Mohiniaattam a major part of this repertoire was lost. Thuti is an instrument made out of skin of animals. However. Kriti.

koyil and snake. like the devadasis of old. peacock.given greater importance perhaps more than in other classical dance forms. Ara (half-bent).Mantookapada. and the vast repertoire of ritual and classical patterns of dance. emotion of love as expressed due to union and emotion of love expressed through separation respectively. Samam standing. Muzhu (full). Sringaara can be broadly divided into Sambhoga Sringaara and Vipralambha Sringaara. Hamsapada. The five basic gaits are those of the frog. Jaganam. Dressed in white and gold. swan. Dhaganam and Sammisram. Mayoorapada. . Kukudapada and Naagabandhu. with the toe and the heel used in a flowing rhythmic structure. a circular use of the torso and a revolving in the half-bent position. The names are derived from the nomenclature called the Vaaitthaari. the dancer today tries to recreate this art with the background of Kerala’s temple heritage. The final formation bears a strong resemblance to the dance of kathakali’s female character. Mukkaal (three-quarters) and Kaal (quarter). Mohiniaattam Adavus The basic dance steps are the adavus which are of four kinds: Taaganam. Mandala sthaanakas. gliding movements of the body. To these are added five stances. Technique of Mohiniaattam The entire technique is of a soft grace.