Thursday, 31 July 2014

Article - Mohiniyattam Missteps - A few observations - Methil Devika

Of all papers that I have come across, a must-read is the thesis by recent researcher Justine Alexia Lemos who has carefully detailed out the positioning of the form of Mohiniyattam vis-à-vis the socio-cultural context of the sambandham or ‘alliances’ rampant in Kerala in the 19th century. Betty True Jones has much earlier given a commendable historical detailing of Mohiniyattam in comparison to others but Lemos’ is a new take. For students pursuing historical research in Mohiniyattam, common references have for the past so many decades been P. Soman, Guru Kalyanikuttyamma, Dr. Kanak Rele, and Leela Nambudiripad. Every student can talk yarns about Gurus Kalyaniamma, Kunjukutty amma, and Chinnammuamma, and their contribution to the Kerala Kalamandalam. Vyavaharamala of the early 18th century is the oldest reference to Mohiniyattam. And that is because no research seems to have gone beyond it. One also finds the novel Meenaksi quoted regularly as a valid evidence of how the dance became debased by the turn of the 20th century. Lemos in her thesis ‘Bracketing Lasya; An Ethnographic Study of Mohiniyattam Dance’ has done wonders in her first three chapters of revealing a more convincing historical process through which the form was resurrected. She has brought in a whole new list of the then practitioners of Mohiniyattam and their dance. 

Read the article in the site

6 comments:

  1. Of all the actual mohiniyattam dancers, Methil Devika is one of the most refreshing to watch and read as well. Apart from being beautiful, her mind is very sensitive and very critical at the same time, which is a challenging combination to live with in Kerala, where everything is automatically taboo-ed. Being the first foreign Kerala Kalamandalam graduate (without speaking a word of Malayalam), I had the privilege to have personal theory sessions with her and for a time it was the only space where I could ask real questions. Where things were not taken for granted but analyzed, discussed, read and observed from different angles. Back in Mexico, I´m quite happy to read Devika´s questioning across oceans. A critical mind, says Octavio Paz, is always negative, but criticism, when done in the right spirit, brings corrections and new perspectives to our behavior. Mohiniyattam research (perhaps whole Indian Dance research) must become more disciplined and realistic to lead us anywhere. Thank you Devika, we need you in the mohiniyattam community.

    Abril Gómez, Mexican mohiniyattam dancer

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  2. Good article. True picture of what is happening .People often fail to acknowledge and without any dilemma present as their own work/findings. Also it is really funny to listen/watch people with half knowledge gathered from here and there trying to establish the point.

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  3. Well thought, well aimed and well written. Bullseye is what the article was written for and it definitely finds it. Love for the art form very visible in each line. Stands out!!!

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  5. Excellent,with clarity.I had always related Sambandham to Mrinalini-Vikram Sarabhai relationship.His biography few years ago,revealed his other affairs too.

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