If we look at the face of an Indian dancer, at the bindi print on her brow, at her kajal made-up eyes, at her long eyebrows, at her red and fleshy lips, decorated with a black pencil, at her arms, at her disjointed hands and foots as if she were a broken doll, our thought immediately goes back to Bollywood films where extraordinarily excited dancers acting in phantasmagorical sets combine different styles together, holy and profane, west and east, defining a style which is by this time everywhere recognised.
However India is a big and glamorous country which does not imitate itself in a ridiculous way and, also in that case, it’s a country with a lot of contradictions. There are dancers, men and ladies, that act differently from Bollywood, they want to find out the pureness of actions and of their meaning, not for a decadent need of safeguarding the style pureness, but because dance is felt and interpreted as if it was a life need, of everyday, something that can’t be substitute for the mind growth. Mohini Attam is a lyrical dance, inspired with nature. It’s inspiration sources are the sound of palms in the wind, the up and down of a boat led by waves, the backwash of the sea, a bird flying on a branch. Nothing farer from Bollywood images. As far as 25 years ago we had almost loose all traces of this kind of dance and only a few themes of the even reach repertory were remembered.
We have to thank the dancer and the dance teacher Kanak Rele, who assembled all the possible material, with a very precise and accurate research in Kerala State, meeting some passionate people and some survivals representatives of elapsed years, defining actions, styles and choreographies which are nowadays called Mohini Attam. Today, we call “Nalanda Dance Research Center” the school founded thirty years ago by this enterprising lady and it is recognised as Research Institute by The Ministry of Science and Technology.