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Smitha Rajan: The Internationally Acclaimed Mohiniyattam Dancer

An interview with the Mohiniyattam dancer, Smitha Rajan, the granddaughter of Late Kalamandalam Kallyanikutty Amma, on her life and the art form.

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Smitha Ranjan

The revered Indian Classical Dance, Mohiniyattam, is known for its artistry based on dramatics and dance. Internationally recognized Smitha Rajan, known for her spiritual intensity dripping through her personified grace, has only taken this art form to new avenues. Smitha Rajan grew up in an environment built around Mohiniyattam. Spanning more than three generations, she is the granddaughter of none other than the finest Indian Classical Dancers, Late Guru Padmasree Kalamandalam Krishnan Nair and Late Guru Kalamandalam Kallyanikutty Amma, or more famously regarded as the mother of Mohiniyattam.

Her grandparents founded the Kerala Kalalayam Gurukula. In this Gurukula, Smitha’s mother and aunt, and she herself naturally found the rhythm of Mohiniyattam. The dance form came naturally to her. Even to this day, Smitha looks up to her grandparents the most. Their multifaceted personalities set new boundaries and created a new perspective for future performers, which encompassed hard work, moral ethics and self respect.

Early Life

Smitha was born and brought up in Kerala, near Ernakulam in Tripunithura. Smitha Rajan’s family fostered an ecosystem of dance and music. In the established gurukula, her grandmother planted in her the roots of Mohiniyattam. Through the guidance of her mother, Guru Sreedevi Rajan, and her aunt, Guru Kala Vijayan, Smitha learnt the unique blend of lasya (grace) and abhinaya (facial expressions). Soon after, at a very young age, Smitha also started teaching other students under the eyes of her grandparents.

Credits: Ms. Smitha Rajan

Smitha completed her degree in M.A. and B.ED, but she didn’t let loose the different classical dances, especially Mohiniyattam. Undoubtedly, this particular dance had gripped Smitha’s soul. Since her early teens, she performed in schools and temples. She also accompanied her grandmother on her Kutcheri Sampradaya of Mohiniyattam tours. These tours were fruitful opportunities for Smitha. During these tours, her grandmother delivered lecture demonstrations, along with Mohiniyattam master classes, which deepened her knowledge of the dance form extensively. Smitha played an integral role as a performer on these tours. Her grandmother’s life aim had become to make Mohiniyattam nationally recognized. Since then, obligation of pursuing Mohiniyattam and keeping it alive, handed down by her grandmother, has been the biggest source of enthusiasm for Smitha Rajan.

The Artform of Mohiniyattam Through the Eyes of Smitha Rajan

Smitha Rajan points out that Mohiniyattam is often misjudged. Since the 1960s-80s, Mohiniyattam, had been popularized by the research, graceful movements and abhinaya of Guru Kalamandalam Kallyanikutty Amma, her grandmother, and so rightfully regarded as Mother of Mohiniyattam. The dance form simply cannot be just understood as a dance performed by a beautiful woman, as the word translates to, “dance of the enchantress” but as a rich language of expressions, both feminine and masculine.

The different dance schools have contributed to the contemporary evolution of the dance form. When asked whether the western tradition has influenced the contemporary form of Mohiniyattam, Smitha is of the opinion that the differences in ideologies of the different practitioners influence an art form.

Credits: Ms. Smitha Rajan

Stories, Lessons, and Achievements

Smitha Rajan shares many interesting and inspiring stories of her life. One of her most cherished memories is of the first stages she performed in the temple festivals for her Alma Mater Kerala Kalalayam. In those days, temple festivals generated large masses for its cultural festivities. These festivities introduced the vibrance of Mohiniyattam to the common folk. At the tender age of 6 only, Smitha had started performing for these stages and along the way learnt valuable lessons of her career that she carries with her even today, that is, know your audience and their feelings and deliver accordingly.

In the late 1980s, a time when TV was still a mystic concept, Smitha Rajan appeared on television. This transitioned her from open stage performances to a small screen delivery. Her performance was regionally broadcasted, which gave the young classical dancer in her a humble push. Soon after, her television presence reached national coverage.

Another memory she remembers more heartily is when she assisted her grandmother as a substitute dancer in place of her mother. After the performance, many senior artists and teachers, including Guru Dhananjayans and Subbudu Mama, congratulated her and even acknowledged her singing. 

Credits: Ms. Smitha Rajan

Smitha has performed with many popular classical dancers of India in dance styles such as Bharatanatyam, Odissi, and Kuchipudi. This allowed her to highlight Mohiniyattam’s uniqueness and beauty, and enabled her to nurture its acceptance amongst dance enthusiasts. Along with this, Smitha has also been able to enrich the catalog of performances from its emphasis on Hindu Epics, (i.e., Mahabharatam, Ramayanam, etc.) into social and historical compositions highlighting relevant themes such as the story of Jhansi Rani and ‘Stree Shakthi’ (Feminine Empowerment). She has spent a lot of time and effort on researching these subject matters, intended to diversify the cultural and social impact of the art form.

In 2019, she produced the movie, “Mother of Mohiniyattam”, with the help of director Vinod Makara. The movie was a tribute to her late Guru and grandmother, Kalamandalam Kallyanikutty Amma. During the course of filming Mother of Mohiniyattam, she visited places where her grandmother had traveled during her research of Mohiniyattam. It was a humbling and an enlightening experience for her. 

Message for the Aspiring Mohiniyattam Dancers

Smitha Rajan says that every person is talented. However, the key lies in understanding the talent through self-awareness, and that’s the moment when one should put in hard work and patience to become great at something they believe in. She also adds that it’s important for young dreamers to have a deep-rooted knowledge in their interests to help them keep a wide perspective. This would help them fulfill the many challenges they may face in their respective careers. A person must gain deep-rooted knowledge in their profession to contribute and make a positive difference to society.

Credits: https://smitharajan.com/

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Dance

Some Mesmerising Dance Covers That Rules Reels And Videos

Through dance covers, old songs regain power and to songs in repeat mode people fall for it again. Dance covers rules YouTube by viewers.

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Dance

YouTube has become a talent with dance and music videos. The latest trend being dance covers. The large sum of people has been engaged in these art forms. This recovers dance as an art form and even our Indian songs could be watched by many abroad widening the scope of Indian art and culture.

Priyanka Mulchandani

Dholida song, has never stayed away from the limelight since its release. Peacock Culture famous for its beautiful choreography is here to enchant the viewers with their grace. The energetic Garba song is met with energetic dance. There is pure ecstacsy in the face of the dancers that they give out the right expressions and emotions during the performance. Inspired from Gangubai, a role played by Alia Bhatt in Gangubhai Kathiawadi-a role that gave her more fame and admiration from the fans, dance videos with the similar Gangubhai attire and dance steps rules the YouTube. Priyanka Mulchandani, who did the choreography and Kajol Malekar are performing to this beautiful song. Peacock Culture represents a team of dancers headed by Priyanka Mulchandani who is also the choreographer. They love Dancing and can make different dance covers in different styles including Bollywood, Hip Hop, Sei Classical, Fusion. Peacock Culture take dance classes in Mumbai and Sangeet Projects around the world.

Credits: YouTube ( Peacock Culture)

Arunima Dey

Arunima Dey had started making YouTube Videos from 2012. She has made reels and videos of dance performances. Most of them are loved by many and the viewers are hiking day by day. The current trend is Yaar Ki Mehfil, lyrics and music been made by Kunaal Verma. Arunima uses Contemporary style to meet with the agony in the song. Every minute step are taken in detail. She has also done Dholida song which has been a hit in YouTube. Arunima never fails to amaze the viewers. She brings every song to an upgraded level with her brilliant dance steps. Sometimes she presents with a team.

Credits: YouTube (Arunima Dey)

Nupur James Choreography

Raanjhana Hua from Benaras movie starring Tamil actor Dhanush and Hindi actress Sonam Kapoor was always a heart-warming song for many music lovers. Its covers are coming up with amazing dance performances. Nupur James has choreographed and presented one of the best dance performances for this song. Since 2010 she has been different kind of dance videos in YouTube. She usually goes outdoors to shoot these videos. Her attractive attires are also mind-blowing. Nupur

Credits: YouTube (Nupur James Choreography)

Himanshu Dulani

Himanshu Dulani- a channel in YouTube is loved by a lot of viewers. A trio comprising 3 boys- Himanshu Dulani, Aashish Lama, Hardik Bhutani  wins hearts these days. Subhanallah song is an all time favorite for all the Yeh Jawaaani Hai Deewani movie fans. Himanshu Dulani does the choreo and the video is taken by Gaurav Visuals. The performance is done at a Mediterranean background. The contemporary style dance is done with perfection. Their masterpiece video is Tere Liye. Every moves are graceful as anything and viewers are going crazy about their style of dancing. Some of them say U.S have Matt Steffanina and Indians have Himanshu.  ‘Pee Loon’ song from Once Upon a Time in Mumbai shows their passion for dance. One cant resist the charm that their dance synchrony radiates.

Credits: YouTube (Himanshu Dhulani)

 In the busy world today, these music and dance covers help people refresh themselves from the chaos. Entertainment industry is truly focusing on its purpose, to entertain the ever stressed minds.

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Dance

Pasoori Has Captivated The Whole Country with Its Music Beats

Music has no boundaries; it cannot be resisted the beats, performance, lyrics and visuals. Pasoori fits in different dance styles.

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Dance

Produced by Coke Studio Pakistan Season 14, Pasoori is a Pakistani song blending folk music with modern beats sung by Ali Sethi and Shae Gill, the song has gone trending with many dancing to its beats. The song has captivated the people from the other side of the world. As the voice of both, the singers are compatible, and the advanced melody wrapped up in fine beats lures the listeners. Indians have shown much enthusiasm in grooving with the songs.

Shachi Biswas

Shachi Biswas presents a fusion of classical and contemporary styles to give an exquisite performance for Pasoori. Her expressions reveal her joy in dancing. Her elegant attire and the old sculpted building in the background add charm to the visuals.  These energetic dance moves have helped her get so many positive comments and the audience are repeatedly watching this brilliant choreography. Other videos on her YouTube channel have also attracted many.

Credits: YouTube Shachi Biswas

Urvashi Jain and Devika Krishnamurthy

Yet another amazing performance is by Urvashi Jain and Devika Krishnamurthy. This elegant mix of traditional with modern dance styles has hit thousands of views. Their efficient synchronization shows their hard work. No one can resist the grace or skip without watching. A luring experience entangled in the deepest melody. Worth Watching, yes, it is.

Credits: YouTube Urvashi Jain

Payal Shah and Mitali Vasant

One-Stop Dance has been pulling off vivid and brilliant choreography for a very long time. Payal Shah and Mitali Vasant bring this time a beautiful costume with traditional accessories to play Pasoori at its best. The duo has shown immense energy and poise. Their Rafta Rafta song performance is also popular.

Credits: YouTube One Stop Dance

Kashika Sisodia

Another flamboyant dance performance to Pasoori is from Kashika Sisodia. With millions of subscribers, Kashika’s ravishing dance has won many viewers. The background and outfits are also alluring giving a Mediterranean aura. She has used a contemporary style of dancing and has incorporated belly dance too. Kashika gives a visual treat with her stunning steps.

Credits: YouTube Kashika Sisodia

Amrita Sarker

The Pakistani music Pasoori is given Indian touch through its fusion style classical dance by Amrita Sarker. Direction and cinematography are done by Excellence. Wearing a white and red attire and dancing on a  balcony, Amrita stands as a poised beauty with her expressions showcasing her happiness with each step.

Credits: YouTube Picxellence YT

Pasoori continues to travel irrespective of boundaries and languages, straight to the hearts. The purity of folklore pierces right through our ears with the music beats. The soothing and heartwarming lyrics couldn’t be avoided at all. Music lovers may put in loop; one cant ignore the beauty of this great art.

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Dance

The Dancers of India: Unique Dance Covers from Different Parts of India

Catch these phenomenal dance covers, each with their unique element and style, representing the dance diversity of India.

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Dance

Dance might just be the right direction to look towards, because it offers us so much solace and excitement. Dance covers, through the growing technology, have reached us with just a click of the button. On social media sites like Instagram and YouTube, dancers have found an easy platform to connect with their audience. Dance covers are a creative form of activity. The amount of enigma, innovation and passion that goes behind dance covers is truly applaudable and inspiring.

Here we have some beautiful dance covers, from different parts of India, to not only celebrate dance, but its diversity too! 

Nagumo – Nimna Nambiar, Divya Raj, Poornima Pradeep

The trio Nimna Nambiar, Divya Raj and Poornima Pradeep present a graceful and poised dance cover on the recent hit song Nagumo from the movie Hridayam. Performing Indian classical dance, the trio doesn’t miss one beat or any facial expressions. They synchronize with each other perfectly, and present to us a calm and serene dance cover.

Credits: YouTube DivzLife

Pasoori – Mohana Meem 

Pasoori by Ali Sethi and Shae Gill has been trending on all music platforms and social media sites. An already great song, Mohana Meem, sparkles it even more with her dynamic and charged dance cover. From the outfit, to the presentation, and the choreography, Mohana Meem completely owned the show! The dance cover completely matches with the vibe of the song.

Credits: YouTube NRITYAM – Seeking Steps to Euphoria

Ghoomar – Nisha Vardhaman

Nisha Vardhaman provides us with glimpses of Rajasthani culture and Rajasthani dance through her phenomenal dance cover of the song Ghoomar. Nisha Vardhaman flawlessly delivers an energetic and enthusiastic Rajasthani dance. She is attired in a Rajasthani outfit which makes her dance performance even more majestic and beautiful! 

Credits: YouTube DhadkaN Group – Nisha

Tapa Tini – Payel Dance Group 

The Payel Dance Group brings to the table the Bengali dance celebrations and culture. The song Tapa Tini is a vibrant and enthusiastic song to listen to. The Payel Dance group adds dynamic and energetic choreography to it. Dancing against the background of green lush trees, and in Bengali attire, the trio will completely enrapture you with their expressions and energy.

Credits: YouTube Payel Dance Group
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Stages Or Channels, Never Let Your Dance Dreams Die Out

Dance as a performing art grows in its exposure through modern technology and digitalization. Young minds are following the virtues of art, these days.

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Dance

Dance as a performing art grows in its exposure through modern technology and digitalization. Young minds are following the virtues of art, these days.

Modern ways of art got a trigger by the arrival of social media platforms like YouTube, Facebook, TikTok, ShareChat, etc. People have started using these to showcase their abilities through vlogs, videos, reels, songs, etc.  This phenomenon was boosted by the pandemic and lockdown.

The talents of India are not confined to physical stages or Television reality shows. The digital revolution has created opportunities for today’s kids to portray their abilities and charm through such platforms. As more people watch their performances, they can earn their own money too. Thus, the YouTube channels have lined up to be a profession for our younger generation. Typical 9 am to 5 pm jobs are fading away in their priority since these can bring fame and money at the same time. Also, they are able to follow their passion and find their own space in this highly busy world. Our children are greater confidence and belief as to achieve what they want for themselves. What time has in its store is a matter worth waiting for.

Nainika and Thanaya

The new film RRR directed by S S Rajamouli starring Telugu actors Ramcharan, Junior NTR, and Alia Bhatt has been a blockbuster. The song ‘Naattu Koothu‘ was a hit even before the movie arrived. The song was danced to in reels and videos across the country. A video of two Indian origin sisters Nainika and Thanaya from North Carolina, New York gracefully dancing to the song ‘Naatu Koothu’ is streaming on YouTube.  With 2.22 million subscribers, the girls have proved their skills like anything. Wearing the same kind of dress worn by the actors in the song, they have come out to the NC streets to dance. Most of all their uploads have been this famous. Recent hits were songs from the movie Pushpa, Gangubhai Kathiawadi, etc… Worth watching dance performances stuffed with real energy and ecstasy.

Credits: YouTube (Nainika and Thanaya)

Shrijita of Payel Dance Group

Another beautiful dance performance is by Shrijita of Payel Dance Group. She dances to a Bengali song ‘Radha Rani‘ sung by Abhishek Aich in Kadom Tole Bose Ache, a 2015 film. Wearing a silk saree, this child plays in the background of trees with immense grace. The channel has group dances as well, that portray Indian culture in its beauty; the most recent viral video being ‘Tapa Tini’ dance cover.

Credits: YouTube (Payel Dance Group)

Ishanvi Hegde

‘Jhumka gira re‘ is a hit song by Saadhna and Sunil Dutt and sung by the legend Asha Bhonsle in a 1966 movie Mera Saaya. Nivi Hegde and her daughter Ishanvi Hegde’s YouTube channel Laasya produces great videos. With mindblowing choreography, apt expressions, attractive accessories, and costumes, the dancer Ishanvi Hegde wins hearts.

Credits: YouTube (Laasya)

Aaditri Mali

Super Dancer Aaditri Mali is another star of the year and her recent video dancing to ‘Dholida‘ song in Gangubhai Kathiawadi garnered all the love from the viewers. This 1.11 minute video has shown her energy and passion for art. She has maintained the character by wearing a similar dress and taking the same steps though. The way she carries herself with her expressions is marvelous.

Credits: YouTube (Super Dancer Aaditri Mali)

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Dancing Enigmas: Some Dance Performances and Covers to Watch

Diving into the dance performances and covers by these enthusiastic dancers and choreographers to cheer up the mood.

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Dance

Dance is the language of love and arts. It transcends the language barriers. It unites us all into one happy moment. Dance is surely an enigma. It is with delight that we watch dance performances and covers, and the enthrallment during this is irreplaceable. Most of the credit, of course, goes to dance as an art form, but also to the dancers and the choreographers who bring to light their blissful performances. There are so many dance genres, and each has its own uniqueness, and its own charm. Be it the energy enthusiastic hip hop, or the calming and graceful semi classical, we cannot deny the presence of either, even though we might have preferences. So, here we have a list of some phenomenal dance performances to lighten up your mood, or maybe move your body along with these dancers!

Tejas Dhoke and Ishpreet – Srivalli 

Tejas Dhoke and Ishpreet present a magical dance performance on the song Srivalli. This sweet dance, with elements of enchantment and vigour, has been choreographed by Tejas Dhoke. You will not find Tejas and Ishpreet missing a step or a beat anywhere. The synchronisation and coordination of the amazing steps makes this short dance performance a fun to watch, and applaud Tejas’ choreographer persona. 

Credits: YouTube Dancefit Live

Karan Sharma and Tanya Sharma – Arabic Kuthu Dance Cover

A power packed performance, loaded with fun, energy and rhythmic beats, is the interlude dance performance you need! Karan Sharma and Tanya Sharma, the groovy duo, deliver all their energy into this dynamic dance performance. The dripping energy will surely make you stand up and groove with them instantly. Both Karan Sharma and Tanya Sharma, also accompany with their dance the best facial expressions as well! You can see they’re thoroughly enjoying the dance as well. 

Credits: YouTube Karan Sharma

Divya Singh – Tum Tak 

Tum Tak by A.R. Rehman from the movie Ranjhana, without a debate and without a doubt, is everyone’s favourite song. Sneha Kapoor’s dance choreography on this beautiful song makes it even a more memorable piece. Divya Singh does full justice to the semi classical choreography. Her grace and elegance synchronises with the sweet melody of Tum Tak and delivers yet another enchanting and soothing performance. 

Credits: YouTube Divya Singh

Srija – Ghanan Ghanan 

The evergreen, Ghanan Ghanan, from the movie Lagaan, has always been the favourite of the songs to do a dance cover on. Dressed in a Rajasthani attire, Srija choreographs an intricate dance performance for this song. Extensive footwork, with simultaneous hand movements, surely Indian classical dances can never be beaten! Srija brings to light a bright, expressive and moving dance performance.

Credits: YouTube Srija Ramakrishna

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