Born into a family with a long lineage of traditional performing arts, it was natural for Vijayalakshmi to take to the classical arts. She was initiated into dance at an early age and was gradually drawn towards Mohiniyattam, the cause her mother and Guru Bharati Shivaji has come to become synonymous with. It is this artistic legacy, a commitment to the cause of Mohiniyattam, that Vijayalakshmi has imbibed, and along with her Guru, has ensured this art form’s rightful place on the world map.
Belonging to the current generation of Mohiniyattam dancers, Vijayalakshmi is acknowledged as one of the most eminent exponents of this dance form today. She has carved a distinct niche for herself and has played a significant role in the revival and rejuvenation of this beautiful Indian classical dance form. She brings a much needed fresh perspective and insight and has greatly contributed to its enrichment and glory in the present times. Inspired by her mother’s path breaking reconstruction of the repertoire of Mohiniyattam, she has a deep understanding of the aesthetics of the art form and is a unique combination of a researcher and a performer. She has explored several new dimensions in Mohiniyattam, presenting new choreographies by drawing upon both traditional and contemporary themes. One such production was
Unniarcha, inspired from ‘Vadakkan Pattukal’ or the ballads of North Malabar. This was an innovation of a singular kind in the field of Mohiniyattam, where for the very first time, elements of Kalaripayattu, the 2000 year-old martial art tradition of Kerala, was incorporated into a Mohiniyattam production, bearing a rich testimony of her outstanding abilities as a dancer-Choreographer.
More recently, Vijayalakshmi explored the idiom of Mohiniyattam through a completely different genre of music. Inspired by the celebrated composition of the great Russian composer Tchaikovsky, she choreographed
Swan Lake in the Mohiniyattam style. It is a coming together of two great classical traditions in a seamless flow, be it in terms of technique, spirit or content. The alluring beauty of Mohiniyattam combining naturally with the elevating music of Tchaikovsky, it is also perhaps one of the first attempts of its kind in the realm of Indian Classical dance. This unique production has won accolades both within the country and outside, including a rare invitation to perform at the prestigious Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow and the Conservatory theatre in St. Petersburg, where Tchaikovsky himself studied.
From an early age, Vijayalakshmi has had the opportunity to perform in
several prestigious national and international festivals, propagating this exquisite and rare dance form around the globe for over 20 years. Some of the prestigious national dance festivals where she has performed include the Central Sangeet Natak Akademi Festivals, Konark and Khajuraho Festivals, as well as the Krishna Gana Sabha and the Music Academy, Chennai. International Festivals include the Edinburgh International Festival, the International Cervantino Festival in Mexico, and a number of Festivals of India around the globe. She has also been regularly performing for Spic-Macay, presenting Lecture-demonstrations on Mohiniyattam in schools and colleges all over India.
Vijayalakshmi is the recipient of several prestigious honors and
awards, including the Sanskriti Nritya Puraskar and Rashtriya Ekta Award. She has co-authored a book along with Guru Bharati Shivaji entitled ’Mohiniyattam’, and has received Fellowships from the Department Of Culture, Government of India, and Indira Gandhi National Centre for The Arts (IGNCA) to pursue research in Mohiniyattam. In 2003, Vijayalakshmi was profiled by the Week magazine as one of
50 Emerging Stars of India to watch over the next decade.