Mohiniattam dance is a very expressive form of dance of Kerala. It is made of two words, "mohini" and "attam". Mohini refers to a beautiful lady and attam means dance. So this traditional Mohiniattam dance form basically means the dance of an enchantress. In Kerala, classical mohiniatam dance form evolved centuries back under the influence of the great king of Travancore, Swati Tirunal. This king was a great patronage of fine arts and encouraged artists from all over India to perform in his court.
The make up and costume of a dancer is very simple yet beautiful.
Emphasis is laid on eye make up since most expressions involve emoting
through eyes. The color of the costume is usually white or off-white
with a golden or a red border. The hair is done up in a bun on the side
just above the ear and is decorated with flowers. The jewellery is
usually an elaborate pair of earrings and a choker for neck, teamed with
a long necklace of coins. Legend has it that Lord Vishnu assumed the
form of a gorgeous heavenly enchantress called Mohini to derive the "Pot
of Amrit" (potion for immortality), which was in possession of the
Demons. He seduced the demons in the form of the divine seductress and
somehow managed to get hold of the pot. The dance that was performed to
mesmerize the demons is now called "Mohiniattam".
The music is usually classical carnatic, typical of south Indian
variations and style of music. It is sung by trained singers or the
teacher who teaches the performers to dance. This beautiful style of
dance involves the use of eye movements that are sensual yet does not
provoke the viewer but enchants in such a way that it is not overt. The
idea is to charm without being offensive. The fluttering eye lashes, the
curved eye brows and the captivating eyes all enchant the viewers and
take them to a virtual paradise!