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Mohiniyattam dance form has developed in Kerala. Performed by women it has graceful, gentle movements. Mohini means an enchantress and a dancer with enchanting movements, dressed in a typical white saree with gold border, hair gathered in a bun on one side and with golden jewellery epitomises the image of a beautiful maiden. Apparently it resembles the Bharatanatyam dance form but is quite distinct in its execution of movements, usage of hand gestures and its stark, simple costume.

Mohiniyattam has enjoyed a revival in recent times and is becoming a popular dance form. It has a format which follows the Bharatanatyam form and the repertoire has common names. In nritta a number called Cholukattu consists 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 in a nutshell. The mnemonic syllables are sung instead of being uttered by the musician. Another item of pure dance is Tillana which follows the musical mode of Bharatanatyam with classical Carnatic music.

In nritya, the padams are mimed with facial expressions and hand gestures and the themes are drawn from mythology. The nayika or heroine longs for union with her beloved. A confidante goes and conveys the message to the lover and the nayika describes the pangs of separation. A varnam follows the structure of a Bharatanatyam varnam dwelling upon the narration, impersonation and alternating with pure dance. Though the dance units in Mohiniyattam are limited, the quintessential grace and the measured movements are its distinct features.

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Kuchipudi, another popular classical dance form of India, has originated from the village of ‘Kuchelapuram’ on the banks of the River Krishna, in Andhra Pradesh. The technique of Kuchipudi makes use of fast rhythmic footwork and sculpturesque body movements. The Abhinaya or stylised mime, using hand gestures and subtle facial expression is combined with more realistic acting, occasionally including dialogues spoken by the dancers.

Siddendra Yogi, hailing from Kuchipudi village is said to be the father of this dance form. He gave a definite form to it and taught it to a group of brahmin boys who handed down the tradition from generation to generation. The dance has undergone many changes since then. Initially the dance was performed only in the temples by groups of boys of the Brahmin community called Bhagavatulus. Today, the Kuchipudi dance form is performed in open-air theatres and in auditoriums. Another striking change has been the inclusion of women. Further changes include the emergence of solo dance, which has widened the horizons of the art giving the artist the freedom to perform to his or her best.

In Kuchipudi, the performer enters and introduces herself to the audience through a ‘Pravesa Daruvu’. The actual performance then continues.

  • Kuchipudi can thus be said to be a perfect balance of the three aspects of –
  • Nritta– the rhythmic sequence that concludes a song or a verse.
  • Nritya– the rhythmic passages followed by interpretations alternatively.
  • Natya– the complete dance drama with a story.
  • The themes for the dance are mostly derived from the scriptures and mythology.

Kuchipudi Dance Classes in Abudhabi, the only classical dance form which goes along with the name of the region itself, an art form which elevates the Abhinaya pattern to its heights making the dance more realistic in nature. Evolved from the drama tradition “Bhagavatha Mela” the dance also includes a structured format of techniques and solo repertoires introduced by Guru Shri Vedantam Lakshmi Narayana Sastry.

The technique of Kuchipudi makes use of fast rhythmic footwork and sculpturesque body movements. Stylized mime and subtle facial expression are some of the features which bring more color to the art form.

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“One of the most beautiful, subtle, sophisticated and graceful dance forms in the world, Bharatanatyam is performed according to the most delicate nuances of a musical piece, or a poem, through the vehicle of a body. Reflecting the principles laid down in the Natyashastra treatises, it has survived in India in all its variegated forms and moods which it has gathered unto itself throughout the centuries.” (Dr. Sunil Kothari)

The Bharatanatyam style of dancing is one of the oldest dance forms in the world and is the main form of classical dance from India. The principles and techniques have been systematized and codified around the 4th Century B.C. by Sage Bharata in the ancient treatise called the Natya Sastra. Like most art forms in India, Bharatanatyam has a deep spiritual base. The dance originally blossomed within the temple walls where the Devadasis or temple dancers dedicated their lives to dance and to God. Passages of time saw this art form emerging from the temple confines and embrace the greater freedom of the stage. What distinguishes Bharatanatyam from all the other Indian Classical dance forms is its clear lines, almost geometric; its agility and lightness together with forceful footsteps, its strength, crispness and most importantly its majesty.

The general interpretation for the name is
BHA va (expression) + RA ga (music) + Tal a (rhythm) + NATYAM (dance) = Bharatanatyam

The 3 elements of Bharatanatyam are:

  • Nritta :is pure dance movements used to show dance technique, the intricacies of complicated timing, rhythms, posture and footwork.
  • Nritya :combination of rhythm with expression. The dancer conveys the meanings of a lyrical passage set to music, through stylised hand gestures, facial expressions and bodily movements.
  • Natya :combines dancing and acting and is used to communicate a narrative or idea.
  • Abinaya is divided as:
  • Angikabhinaya :Expression through the limbs and body like the head, hands, and legs.
  • Vachikabhinaya :Expression through narrations and voice.
  • Aharyabhinaya :Expression through dress, ornaments and other aids.
  • Satvikabhinaya :Mental expression of feeling and emotion by facial expression and use of eyes.

Bharata Natyam earlier called as “Sadir” is one of the oldest dance forms of India. It was nurtured in the temples and courts of southern India since ancient times. Later it was codified and documented as a Performing art in the 19th century by four brothers known as the Tanjore Quartet whose musical compositions for dance form the bulk of the Bharata Natyam repertoire even today.

The Art form is performed by predominantly using the footwork and hand gestures with apt expressions. It can be performed as a Solo & in Theatre Format.

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