Mohiniattam, which is literally translated as the “dance of the enchantress,” comes from the state of Kerala in Southern India. The movements of the dancer represent the motion of Mohini, the enchantress, a disguise used by Lord Vishnu to lure the rakshasas, or evil demons, away from the nectar of immortality. Mohiniattam is characterized by slow, swaying movements of the upper body with legs placed in a stance similar to a plie position. The eyes also play an important role in accenting the direction of the movement. This dance form is notable for being performed only by women.
Kathakali also hails from the state of Kerala, and is a theater art performed primarily by men. Kathakali is a group presentation, in which dancers take various roles in performances traditionally based on themes from Hindu mythology, particularly the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. One of the most distinguishing features of Kathakali is its use of elaborate make-up, which creates the appearance of the dancers wearing a mask. The technique of Kathakali includes a highly developed language of gesture, through which the artist can convey whole sentences and stories. The body movements and footwork are very rigorous, and mastery of the art requires many years of vigorous training and development of flexibility.
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