Mohiniyattam means the dance of the divine enchantress and, staying true to its name, the Indian dancer Neena Prasad takes the stage in Dubai with Anubhava, showcasing the classical-dance style from the southern Indian state of Kerala.
During two back-to-back shows tomorrow at Dubai Community Theatre and Arts Centre, Prasad and her four-member troupe will take the audience into a world of Indian mythology through this dance form that is high on “lasya”, a combination of beauty and grace. Mohiniyattam focuses on the female protagonist and Prasad’s has worked to put the spotlight on the stronger side of heroines, be it Shakuntala, Draupadi or even the demure Sita.
The troupe will perform a full mohiniyattam repertoire, beginning with cholkettu, a dance set to rhythmic syllables sung in a particular raga or tune. There will also be padam, which focuses on abhinaya or expressions, and the varnam, which combines dance and abhinaya. Attired in off-white and gold, Prasad and her troupe will string together multiple themes and stories to showcase different facets of the dance form, all set to live music.
With its gentle pace, rhythm and swaying movements, mohiniyattam is said to recreate the mesmerising, verdant landscape of Kerala, the land of its birth. Through its rhythmic patterns and dressing style, mohiniyattam is distinct from other South Indian dance forms.
What makes Prasad stand out is her rigorous training in four different Indian classical dance styles – mohiniyattam, Bharatanatyam, kuchipudi and kathakali. However, she eventually returned to mohiniyattam, her first love, and her novel approach to the dance form led to thematic presentations that widen the repertoire. She now runs two dance schools – the Bharatanjali Academy for Indian Dances in Kerala’s capital city Thiruvananthapuram and the Sougandhika Centre for Mohiniyattam in Chennai, in neighbouring Tamil Nadu.
• Anubhava is tomorrow at 6pm and 8.30pm at Kilachand Studio Theatre, Ductac, Mall of the Emirates. Tickets are Dh100 and can be purchased from the Ductac box office. Prasad will also be performing at the Kerala Social Center in Abu Dhabi, on Saturday at 8.30 pm, free entry, seating on first-come basis. For more information, contact 050 478 0760 or 050 692 1018