Attam as a dance form has developed in Kerala.
Performed by women it has graceful, gentle bobbing 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.
Attam has enjoyed a revival in recent times
and is the most popular dance form among the young aspirants in Kerala.
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. However, of late, kerala's Sopana
music is being employed for Mohini Attam
and the repertoire has also been enlarged with the choreography maintaining
the typical movements of this graceful style.
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 Mohini Attam
are limited, the quintessential grace and the measured movements are its