Vijayalakshmi has explored several new dimensions in
Mohiniyattam, presenting new choreographies, by drawing upon
both traditional and contemporary sources. One such work was
Unniarcha, a legend inspired from Vaddakkan Paattukal, the
ballads of North Malabar. This was a singular innovation in the
realm of Mohiniyattam, where for the very first time elements of
Kalaripayattu, the 2000 year old martial art tradition of Kerala,
was incorporated into Mohiniyattam.
Among the various heroes, Unniarcha, the heroine, stands out
supreme, being a woman of extraordinary physical strength and
mental resilience. She is believed to have been well versed in
the ancient martial art of Kalaripayattu.
Drawing upon a regional source, this choreographic work added a
refreshing dimension to Mohiniyattam, unexplored in the past.
Elements of Kalaripayattu were incorporated, since Unniarcha is
believed to have been proficient in Kalaripayattu. The theme
exemplifying the Veera Rasa is an interesting contrast to
Sringara which is more often depicted in Mohiniyattam.
Although it belongs to the hoary past of Kerala’s cultural
ethos, it echoes the contemporary spirit as well. The work
celebrates the woman’s extraordinary physical and mental
resilience, and her determination to overcome obstacles without
losing grace. While Unniarcha is a heroine excelling in
traditional warfare, she could well be a woman of today, rooted
in tradition, yet modern in her perspective and coping with
“Enchanting all, with song of the body…The high point of the
evening was a dance ‘Unniarcha’, choreographed and performed by
Vijayalakshmi, the young talented daughter of Bharati.
Reconstructing the legend of North Malabar region, it centered
around a folk heroine supposed to be a martial art expert. With
the dance drama amalgamating various elements of Kalaripayatu –
ancient martial art of Kerala...So as Unniarcha came alive, both
her strength of purpose and grace of Mohiniyattam found an echo
in her rhythmic postures.”