The first evening of the Looking Back to Move Forward Festival began with traditional Mohiniattam and concluded with Mohiniattam based contemporary dance by French artist, Brigitte Chataignier (separate video)July 25, 2018 followed by a week of performances of new choreography in 6 styles, photo exhibition, films, workshops and seminars. • Brigitte Chatagnier • Vocalist K Venkateshwaran • Mridangam – Manohar Balatchandirane • Violin – G Raghvendra Prasath • Nattuvangam – Subbulakshmi Ganesh Festival curator, Sharon Lowen Kerala’s Mohiniyattam achieved its classical status during its evolution through the last five decades. The devadasi tradition was resuscitated by the late Rajah Swathi tirunal of Travancore and later the great poet Vallathol Narayana Menon nurtured it at Kerala Kalamandalam. Bhakti centered, the lyrical contents were mostly focused on the heroine seeking proximity to her dear one, the lord himself. Trained since childhood in mime, theatre and contemporary dance, Brigitte Chataignier’s discovered and fell in love with Mohini Attam in 1986, studyng for seven years in Kerala, most notably under gurus Kalamandalam Leelamma at Kerala Kalamandalam, Kalamandalam Ksheimavathy and also Smt Sridevi Rajan. With several scholarships over the years, Brigitte pursued her personnal research with scholars and teachers such as Smt Nirmala Pannikar, Kavalam Narayana Pannikar, CP Unnikrishnan…She has also studied carnatic vocal, some female roles from the repertoire of Kathakali, the fundamentals of Kalarippayatt; is initiated in Nangiar Koothu and folk dance traditions of Kerala. She has danced in Kerala Temples and major festivals in India including the Soorya Festival, Kerala Sangeeth Natak Academy, Bonjour India… as well as in Paris at the Théâtre de la Ville, the Guimet Museum and the La Villette exhibition centre. In association with filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan she initiated and co-directed the film “The Dance of the Enchantress”. Brigitte is also deeply involved in her own contemporary dance productions as a dancer and choreographer which have toured both France and India with her Compagnie Prana, based in Rennes (France). Her approach combines tradition and modernity in productions like Ganga and Bhopal Blue. We will see an excerpt from her latest production, traces, in the second half of this evening’s program. Brigitte begins with a GANAPATI STUTI Choreographed by Kalamandalam Kshemavathy. The Composition by N. K. Vasudeva Panikkar is in Râgas, bhûpâla, shrî and saranga and Adi tala. A single tusk, The body full and prosperous The hot luster of polished gold, bounces from the belly, Eyes wide open, I venerate Ganapati You make Ambika happy. Protégé of the divine mothers, Adored and good natured, The favorite among the gods, face of an elephant, ears trimmed with fly swatters, Holding spur and lace, I venerate Ganapati. O God, You who destroy the stumbling blocks, Who abolish suffering and mourning Ganapati, come to my aid. The Varnam : DANISAMAJENDRA, Composed Swati Tirunal is the Mohiniattam dance of the evening. This classic choreography by late Kalamandalam Satyabhama elaborates the heroine’s emotions as she addresses her confidante, her sakhi, separated from her beloved Krishna. The amorous feelings of the nâyika for her divine beloved, presents mainly the essence of srngara rasa along with karuna rasa This pada varnam is structured in two parts. first – the pallavi and the anupallavi which blend abstract dance and expressive dance, and the second, the charanam, Ganaparamiha repeated to a more sustained tempo, in alternation with a suite of charanasvaram, new groups of swaras and the sahitya. Oh beautiful woman Know what is my pain The delicious spring days Holders of so many joys, run for me in vain O woman with dark hair From night to night I constantly think of Him He, the swarms of bees buzzing melodies And in trees, cuckoos seek and assemble Alas the fiery words My husband once uttered in my ear Were heavily imprinted in my heart, And you see me pierced by kama’s arros No one can save me Exept whose arm creeper offered my head rest Britgitte chatagnier concludes the Mohiniattam portion of the evening with a famous Malayalam lullaby, OMANA TINGAL KETAVO In Raga Kurinji Navarasa and tala Misra Chapu It is believed that the poet Sri. Irayumman Tampi was inspired by the beauty of the infant Swathi Tirunal, also of the royal family. Are you the adorable little Moon, the lotus flower that embodies global beauty? Are you the nectar in the flower or the soft light that smoothly emerges from the full moon? I am unable to decide, whether you are the dancing peacock or the nightingale that sings the tune of love. Are you the unguent on the forehead of Goddess Laksmi, the embodiment of universal wealth and beauty! Or, are you, my dear Sri krishna reborn, assuming this beautiful form incomparable to anything that is known to the world.