BANGALORE: The second day of Rang Tarang - National Festival of Choreography saw a wide array of mesmerising dance performances by renowned artists from South India. After a long and delayed start, the audience was looking forward to a colourful evening. The Kuchipudi performance, retelling excerpts from the Mahabharata, left everyone with enthusiasm. Next in line, was a performance of the classical dance of Kerala — Mohiniyattam, by Dharani School of Performing Arts, Kochi. Shyamala Surendran, founder of the school, performed with her students and other Kathakali dancers.The school that had initially started with just three girls in 1987, mushroomed into one of the most prestigious institutions for classical arts. Shayamala Surendran, wife of late Captain Surendram, emphasises the learning of Carnatic music along with Mohiniyattam, Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi. Mohiniyattam is a dance form that is said to have originated in Kerala. It closely resembles Bharatanatyam, that was initially called ‘Dasiyattam’, and was performed by Devadasis in temples. The costume and jewellery consist of the traditional combination of white and gold. Intricate details such as finger rings, jasmine flowers around the konda (hair bun) and thin gold bangles, make the dance as divine as it is meant to be. The language used in the lyrics is a pleasant mixture of Malayalam and Sanskrit, known as Manipravalam.
The performance, which included Shyamala Surendran herself, comprised three pieces. The first was Ganesh Stuti, in aditala, describing the features of the Elephant God. The second, Tilana — a traditional choreography - in Abhogi raaga and Aditala. The latter Saahitya part of this piece describes Lord Krishna, in the most beautiful way. The final piece was ‘Tattvam asi’ meaning ‘you are that’, part of the Saptam Nritya. This 30-minute long performance, traced the story of Ayyappa — Lord of Shabarimala. It highlights morals and values through a verbal recitation along with music and rhythm in the song. The male parts in this piece were enacted by professional Kathakali artistes, whose strength and vigour defined their powerful movements. It serves as the most appropriate example for Abhinaya, or facial expressions since Mohiniyattam employs this technique to represent the grace and beauty of the Gods. In meandering, snake-like movements the women gave a transcendental performance.
Among the performers were Shyamala Surendran, Usha Mohan, Binu Hari Kumar, Haritha Haridas, Lakshmi Vishwanath, Ramesh AN and others. The evening echoed the message of one-ness with god. As Shayamala herself said, “Just as all the rivers flow into the ocean, all religions merge with God.” It was indeed a delight to watch the culture of India, portrayed in such a divine manner.