“Raagamayi” – Mohiniattam in Love

SUNANDA-IN1By Priya Manoj

AUSTIN, TX: On Sunday, November 11, the much awaited dance performance “Raagamayi” by world-renowned Mohiniyattam expert Kalashree Dr. Sunanda Nair and her disciples took place in Austin, Texas. The auspicious occasion began by seeking the blessings of Lord Ganesha with a composition of Swathi Thirunal. The performers, Aathira Vijayakumar and Mamta Vasantkumar evoked an atmosphere of devotion in the concert room.

In the next item, “Mukhachalam”, the raga and tala patterns were coordinated with the graceful dance movements of the performers Arathi Remesh, Divya Shanker, Sarita Warrier and Suja Pillai. They reminded the audience of the swaying palm trees in the Kerala backwaters that is typical of this nritta piece. This was followed by a “padam” based on “Omanathinkal” a famous lullaby written by Kerala poet Shri Irayiman Thampi. The performer, Gayathri Prashant, excellently portrayed an adoring mother who considers the beauty of her child as unmatched. The artist asking the audience to hush up their applause for fear of waking up her child ended the item on a humorous note. “Ashtanayika” depicting the eight different emotions that a heroine could feel for her hero was safe in the hands of beautiful and talented mohinis who did Mukhachalam. 


If the disciples led the first half of the evening, the eminent guru, Dr. Sunanda Nair herself took over the second half. In her first item “Oru Makal”, the audience witnessed the disheartenment felt by a mother whose daughter eloped with her lover of choice. No mother could watch this dance piece without getting the corner of her eyes wet. The story of Goddess Amba’s life was elegantly depicted in the next item. The dancer captivated the audience even with a subtle movement of the shoulders; one can say for sure that there is dance in every breath of hers. In the last item rendered, she portrayed how Kubja was freed from her slavery to the evil king Kamsa by Krishna and her attaining salvation.


The talented musicians enhanced the performance on stage. A preview of the documentary film on Dr. Sunanda Nair “Laasyam, The World of Sunanda Nair” was also shown at the event. As a whole, the love and devotion in the word “Raagamayi” was made meaningful by the fine performance of Dr. Suananda Nair and her disciples.

Priya Manoj is a trained bharatanatyam and mohiniyattam dancer as well as overall dance enthusiast who enjoys writing in her spare time.