Mohiniattam Festival 2009
the Mohiniattam Gurukulam of Natana Kairali celebrated the 10th Ranga Parichaya
Mohiniattam Festival successfully from 20th to 22nd of December at
the Arangu of Natana Kairali, Irinjalakuda. The three day long
festival was inaugurated by Swami Hari Om Ananda.
is a research and performing centre for the traditional art forms of Kerala,
founded by G Venu in 1975 and Natana Kaisiki is a wing of Natana Kairali
added to it in 1979, which was founded by Nirmala Paniker, who is a disciple
of Mohiniattam exponent Guru Kalyanikutty Amma. Natana Kaisiki is very
unique because it is dedicated only to the promotion and preservation of
the dance and theatre traditions of the women of Kerala, especially Mohiniattam,
Nangiar Koothu and Thiruvathirakali.
festival 2009 started with a lecture demonstration by Nirmala Paniker and
her students. The topic was how the movements in Mohiniattam are related
to nature and the day to day life of Kerala.
day presentation was dedicated to the old tradition of Mohiniattam and
Kapila, one of the senior most students of Natana Kaisiki, was the performer.
The program started with a Cholkettu consisting of stylised syllables,
then a Devi sthuti, again syllables and finally ended with a few lines
invoking Siva, with the main raga being Saurashtram and tala Adi.
The second item
was a Varnam, raga Neelambhari and tala Adi by Maharaja Swathi Thirunal,
the great king who took special care and rejuvenated Mohiniattam in the
19th century. The varnams in Mohiniattam mostly describe the distress of
the heroine separated from her beloved. This new choreography provided
ample opportunities to Kapila to demonstrate her histrionic talent.
ended with a Desi Mohiniattam called Mukkuthi / Moksha Nritham. Normally
it is a very simple theme that says that kurathy lost her nose ring and
is searching for it. Mohiniattam exponent, choreographer and scholar Nirmala
Paniker brought in a highly philosophical approach in which an inner meaning
dealing with the human search for moksha was also projected.
day of the festival started with a very educative lecture by Vijaya Kumar
Menon, a well known scholar of many art forms of Kerala. This day,
the importance was given to Desi Mohiniattam, which is also Nirmala Paniker’s
recent contribution to the repertoire of Mohiniattam. When the revival
of Mohiniattam took place in Kerala Kalamandalam, the dance form went through
many reforms, believed as necessary to its rescue at that time. In this
process, some items were removed from the repertoire. But considering the
importance of preventing Mohiniattam from becoming rootless, and to keep
its indigenous aspects, it was necessary to keep the folk traditions in
the repertoire alive. That led Natana Kaisiki to the revival of several
such dances of this kind namely Poli, Easal, Chandanam, Kurathi, Mukkuthi
The first item
presented this evening was called Poli, an invocation to ‘Amma daivam’
(mother goddess) in her different ancient forms like Kali, Neeli, Karumari,
Rudra etc., and pray to her to be present everywhere and wishes happiness
and prosperity to the whole community around her; these are her children.
Then Meenakshi Menon, one of the disciples of Guru Nirmala Paniker,
presented one of her own choreographies. She selected a few lines of the
song “Vandippin Mathavine” penned by the great Malayalam poet Mahakavi
Vallathol, who founded Kerala Kalamandalam.
ended with another Desi Mohiniattam called Easal. In Easal, there are two
dancers - Lakshmi kurathi and Parvathi kurathi. In the beginning of the
dance, there is an encounter between Lakshmi kurathi and Parvathi kurathi.
Then towards the end, they become friends. The lines for Easal have
been taken from the “Lakshmi – Parvathi Samvadam Pattu.” The music was
composed under the guidance of Kavalam Narayana Paniker.
On the last day,
new Margi choreographies of Natana Kaisiki were performed by the
students. The items presented were ‘Nrithyati Nrithyati,’ an invocation
dance, then Varnam, Padam, Thillana, Saptham and a Kummi too.
Kummi belongs to the group dance category and in olden days, the Mohiniattam
dancers used to conclude their performance with one of these items. All
the items were newly choreographed and taught by Nirmala Paniker. The main
dancers were Uma Devi, Sandra Pisharody, Sudharma, Parvathy, Remya J, Remya
R Menon and Greeshma. Kummi was performed by young dancers Gayathri, Medha,
Chaithanya, Anupama, Mridula, Hridya and Atmaja.
artistes were: Reju Narayanan, Kalanilayam Ramakrishnan (vocal), Kalanilayam
Prakasan (maddalam), Chalakudy Reghunath, Visakhan (flute), Kalanilayam
Kaladharan (edakka) and Nirmala Paniker (nattuvangam).