Exploring the choreography of Jatiswaram in mohiniyattam, a harmony of movement and music.

In the previous article, we discussed the choreography of Cholkkettu, a traditional dance form that typically begins by praising Goddess Bhagavati and then delves into exploring rhythmic intricacies through choreographed movements that complement music and rhythm. Cholkettu concludes with a Siva Sthuthi, praising Lord Shiva.

In this part, we are discussing Jathiswaram, which comes after Cholkkettu. It is a slow transition from the first level to the next level. Jathiswaram is the expression of this musical flow. It is an assemblage of Jatis (syllables) and svaras (musical notes) within the framework of a rāga and in tune with its tāla (time-beat), and the danseuse exhibits pure dance appropriately.

A pose from Jatiswaram (Bindu Rajendren)

In this way, this dance performance can be seen as a physical reflection of human life’s journey towards salvation. Jathiswaram, which comes next, is a mixture of movement in harmony with the chants and music that are firm in tone. A dancer can use the Jathiswaram genre when she can rhythmically align the emotion with the music. In Jathiswaram, life rises from its base, the earth, with pure dance framed by pure verses and pure music framed by pure tones, making Mohiniyattam beautiful. There are no stories or characters in it, but Jathiswaram is a form of dance that combines pure dance and music.

In the Pancha Bhutas, Jathiswaram, which comes second after Prithvi, is said to be associated with Vayu. The main properties of Vayu are sound and the sounds produced by syllables. Jathiswaram is expressed due to these qualities of Vayu. A slow flow from one level to another is very important in Mohiniyattam. Jathiswaram is the expression of this musical flow.

.In this, there is not much scope for abhinayā (facial expressions); instead, a pleasant and happy mood is the main expression. In tune with the tāla, various patterns of adavus are assorted in this pure dance recital. The svara passages are designed to highlight the grace and attraction of the dance movements. Beautiful poses and pure dance units are included in the choreography. If choreographed aesthetically, Jatiswaram has the potential to be celebrated as visual poetry through the body language of Mohiniyattam.

A Jatiswaram performed by Bindu Rajendran; choreographed by Nirmala Panicker

Assisted by: Sreekanth Kartha

Photo Courtesy: Natanakairali Archives

Nirmala Paniker

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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