In conversation with Vijayalakshmi, a Mohiniattam dancer from Delhi
Vijayalakshmi is the daughter of great Mohiniattam dancer, Bharati Shivaji
Q In many forms of dance men dress up as women and perform so why cant men learn or perform Mohiniyattam ??
In Kerala the tradition is men perform Kathakali and women Mohiniyattam. There is no need for men to perform Mohiniyattam as firstly it’s a Lasya dance it will look more beautiful when women do it, secondly, women don’t perform Kathakali, the men do all the roles, maybe because in earlier days women were forbidden to come on stage or whatever the reason is women are meant to do Mohiniyattam and men Kathakali.
Q About the investment in classical dance ??
The media is always highlighting the film culture, very soon our coming generation will not be knowledgeable enough about our classical arts, there is nobody to advocate, speak about or preserve it, as the film culture is so very dominating. All sorts of shows, quiz shows, talk shows on news channels are constantly talking about the films industry as if they are the only ones who have contributed. Not much is done by the cultural bodies either hence the audiences for the classical dance has also decreased.
Q The qualities of a good dancer.
I look for commitment from my students at least and not overnight success. I tell students about my experience, i.e. the first time I performed I had only 2 people in the audience but I didn’t lose my focus hence an unconditional commitment to Mohiniyattam is required. And of course you have to be inherently graceful.
Also now I feel the academic content of the art form should be pursued along with the practice, as everything has become education wise, so it acts as a support.
For further details she can be contacted at
104, Bhaktawar Singh Block, Asian Games Village
New Delhi 110 048
Tel: (011) 26492578