An Eminent Legacy of Mohiniyattam

Jan 01, 2014 | Vol 6, Issue 1
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Smitha Rajan, the seasoned artist in Mohiniyattam (Kerala, India), considers it as her responsibility to uphold and carry forward the tradition of Mohiniyattam, imbibed from her grandmother Kalamandalam Kalyanikutty Amma.

Mohiniyattam is the classical dance form of Kerala and is characterised by dignified subtle movements, reminiscent of ocean waves. In the field of Mohiniyattam, Smitha Rajan has carved her own identity not only as a graceful performer but also for taking forward the tradition of Mohiniyattam, the way the maestro Kalamandalam Kalyanikuttyamma rediscovered some decades ago.

Born to a family with a long lineage of performing arts, as the blessed   granddaughter of the maestros of Indian classical art forms Late Kalamandalam Krishnan Nair and Late Kalamandalam Kalyanikutty Amma , and daughter and disciple of Sreedevi Rajan  it was natural for Smitha Rajan to take this classical dance.   Nurtured under the guidance of her grandmother, mother and aunt, all three of them being venerated artists of Mohiniyattam, Smitha fine tuned her innate abilities to become one of the most accomplished Mohiniyattam performers of the new generation. Smitha, is now residing in USA and is engaged in activities to promote and popularise the Mohiniyattam dance form.

Mohiniyattam is a highly expressive classical dance form of Kerala with graceful steps and floating movements. Kalamandalam Kalyanikutty Amma with her life-time efforts could bring Mohiniyattam to the limelight of the Indian classical dance forms. Kalyanikutty Amma had done a lot of travel and research for fine tuning Mohiniyattam. Being the granddaughter of Kalyanikutty amma, Smitha was also closely associated with the dance form from her childhood itself.  Smitha has got the training in classical dance forms Mohiniyattam, Kuchipudi and Bharathanatyam from her mother, Guru Sreedevi Rajan and her aunt, Guru Kala Vijayan. She is also trained in Kathakali, the classical dance-drama of Kerala. But it was Kalyanikutty amma who elevated her to the mesmerising world of Mohiniyattam and Smitha imbibed all the finesse of the art form from her.

Nrityakshethra Dance School, USA 

After her marriage with Mr Jyotis Balasubrahmanian, Smitha went to USA. In 1999, the very next year of her arrival in US she established 'Nrityakshethra' meaning  Temple of Dance, at St. Louis, USA to train the Indian classical dance forms mainly Mohiniyattam. Since then she got many stages in the length and breadth of US to perform Mohiniyattam in solo and along with her students. At present, Smitha trains 100 plus students in her school Nrityakshethra every year. She is conducting specialised online classes for students from US, Europe and India. In October every year the school celebrates its anniversary. From November to January, it is the holiday season for her dance school and this is the time Smitha gives more importance to performances and developing new themes and projects. She performs at many cultural events in India, during this period.

According to Smitha, Mohiniyattam is her mother tongue which depicts the tradition and culture of Kerala and she endeavours to promote and popularise the art form across the globe. Smitha, as a part of an eminent legacy, considers it as her responsibility to uphold and spread Mohiniyattam and carry forward the essence and tradition of Mohiniyatttan, imbibed from her grandmother Kalamandalam Kalyanikutty Amma.

(www.smitharajan.com
Kerala contact: Kalyana Krishna Foundation, Kochi-682 016
Kerala, India, Ph: +91- 484-2368525, www.kalyanakrishna.org)

 

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