Taking the audience through the history of Kerala’s classical dance form, Mohini Attam, danseuse Deepti Omchery Bhalla discussed how it had been difficult for the form to gain its own identity, as it was often confused with other dance forms from the state.
“The term mohini means a woman who enchants the audience, and attam refers to graceful movements,” said Bhalla, speaking at a workshop conducted on Friday as part of the ongoing Hindustan Times Kala Ghoda Arts Festival. “This is where the difference lies, in the subtlety.”
The workshop, held at Artists’ Centre, explored the transition of the dance form from the temple to the stage.
Discussing why it is important that the audience know the theory behind any dance form, Bhalla said: “It is not only about hand or foot movements. The music, costumes, hair — everything matters.”
Bhalla proceeded to explain how the music of Mohini Attam is different from that of Bharatnatyam or Kathak. She then delivered a brief performance, and guided the audience through what they would have missed out on if she had not taken them through the music first.
“The workshop was a great way to connect to the dancer on a personal level and understand her bhavas or feelings,” says Falguni Shah, 52, a Kathak dancer who is pursuing a PhD in literature.
For Shirin Karanjia, 65, a retired banking executive, the workshop was a way to gain knowledge that she can draw on at all dance performances that she attends. “People have forgotten that there exists a creative world, everyone is just busy making money,” she added.