Codified adavus are introduced to young aspirants of Mohiniyattam once they gain control and balance over their body while dancing

After traversing through the essentials of Mohiniyattam such as the charis and the hastamudras in our previous articles, we now delve into another vital aspect of the dance – Adavus. In part 48 of the series on Mohiniyattam, we discussed the importance of adavus and further elaborated on the first group of adavus – Thaganam Adavu 1, 2 and 3. Here, we continue to explore more such adavus in Mohinyattam.

For starters, I would like to mention an important fact regarding the adavus that I am describing here. The adavu training given to Mohiniyattam dancers in Natanakaisiki comprises Adavus that I learnt in the two popular styles of Mohiniyattam, the Kalyanikuttiyamma style and the Kalamandalam style.

In addition, the adavu collection also includes the basic movements that we learnt for the traditional Cholkkettu and other dance pieces in the early years of Mohiniyattam. Years ago, young children were seldom initiated into Mohiniyattam. In Kerala, they often learn Bharathanatyam or Kuchipudi first and are initiated into Mohiniyattam only at a later stage.

Read: Nirmala Panicker’s research on Mohiniyattam  

In Natanakaisiki, students are trained exclusively in Mohiniyattam and learning Bharathanatyam or Kuchipudi is not encouraged – although I don’t deny them the opportunity to learn those dances if they wish to. Here we train children from the age of 5 and give importance to easy and simple movements in training such young children.

Often, we impart training to the young aspirants using the movements of Kaikottikkali / Thiruvathirakkali. However, as they gain control over their body, the more codified adavus belonging to the category of Tha-ganam, Ja-ganam, Dha-ganam and Sammishram are slowly introduced. These adavus haven’t been modified from the initial versions that I learnt except for a few changes to some of them based on aesthetic preferences to suit the rhythmic structure of the Chollu-s or Vaytharis.

Read: Mohiniyattam pioneers and their styles   

The second group of adavus in Thaganam.

Thee Tha Thee Thee- Adavu 1

Talam – Adi

“Thee Tha Thee Thee- Adavu 2

Talam Adi

Read articles by Nirmala Paniker here

Assisted by Sreekanth Janardhanan

Assisted by Sreekanth Janardhanan

Photo courtesy: Natanakairali Archives

Photo Artist: Sandra Pisharody

Video Clipping: Mohiniyattam artist Ameena Shanavas

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Guru Nirmala Paniker is a danseuse, choreographer and researcher of repute. She established Natanakaisiki, the dance research and training wing of Natanakairali.

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