Rarely has one had the feeling of music and dance being perfectly matched as in the recent endeavour of Swan Lake in Mohini Attam based on Tchaikovsky's original music by The Centre for Mohini Attam, under the leadership of dancer Bharati Shivaji and her disciple/daughter Vijayalakshmi.... This task of retaining the best of the music without giving a feel of disjointed bits put together could only have been achieved by one who had absorbed every mood in the music by listening to it constantly. Here it was Vijayalakshmi whose obsessive desire to do Swan Lake in Mohini Attam after having listened to the music in Russia and seen ballet performances was a factor which came to the aid of the production and in a sense became its main motivating force. The fact that many Westerners who are familiar with the work, while watching forgot the feeling of this being a cross-cultural work, says a lot for how dance and music interacted.

Leela Venkataraman, Dance Critic, www.sruti.com

“Mohini Maidens charmed swans…A dance drama that showed a sheer panache to find a close similarity between the Western ballet and Mohiniyattam…In spite of the very obvious influences of the balletic leaps, pirouettes and arabesques, the movement on toes, the diagonal groupings and the other usages of space, the idea jelled admirably…in the hero (superbly essayed by Santosh Nair) using powerful Charis (gaits), Utplabans (jumps) and Bhramaris (rotations) from the genre of Mayurbhanj Chhau and the swan odetta (enacted beautifully by Vijayalakshmi) using the swaying motions of Mohiniyattam, in picturesque unison with her companions.”

The Pioneer

An enthralled audience watched as the performance glowed with the lasya-filled swans led by Vijayalakshmi - acting as a foil to the male Chhau vigour of Santosh Nair and Anil Panchal, even for this critic, treated to earlier performances of this production. A discerning foreigner summed up: "Swan Lake ballet is a cliché. But this! It is as if Tchaikovsky had composed for Mohiniattam!"

The Hindu, New Delhi

“Many faces of innovation…So effortlessly did the Mohiniyattam movements match Tchaikovsky’s score, dance and music looking made for each other, making the viewer forget this was a cross-cultural effort. Resulting from the long nursed obsession of Vijayalakshmi, the choreography by her and Bharati Shivaji kept movement faithful to the Mohiniyattam body language while making it look inevitably part of the music. Vijayalakshmi playing Odette also made a researched selection of relevant passages from the music…Totally unhampered by the a-rhythmic music, the rapturous dancing seemed to emanate from dancers liberated from the tala-bound conventional measurement of time. The pristine white Mohiniyattam costume, the delicate elevations and dips with graceful andolika torso sway seemed tailor-made for the swan.”

The Hindu

The tone for the festival was set on the opening day itself which started with presentation of Swan Lake ballet in Mohiniattam by Shivaji Bharti and party. The music for the ballet was adapted so skillfully by the dancers that many in the crowd remarked that probably the Russian genius while composing it could have never imagined that it would be adapted in India and we will see such beautiful swans. Never for a minute there was a false note or a wrong movement.

Central Chronicle, Chandigarh

An Indian version of Russian composer Tchaikovsky's ballet 'Swan Lake' received standing ovation at the famous Bolshoi Theatre here during the gala inaugural of a nine day-long cultural festival of India. Tchaikovsky's elevating music, coupled with the alluring beauty of classical Mohiniattam dance enthralled the Russian audience.

Deccan Herald, Bangalore

The audience was amazed when instead of Swan-girls in usual ballet skirts, barefooted beauties in Indian sarees with jasmine flowers in black hair floated on the stage. Their movements were magnificent. They told a love story, taken with delight by the spectators. As for the contents on the performance, the ardour on the stage was stronger, the colours were brighter and the artistes more passionate. The sophisticated audience in Moscow received it with ovation. It turns out to be so pleasant to destroy the steadiest stereotypes.


Padmashree Guru Bharti Shivaji and dancers from the Centre for Mohiniattam wooed the Calcutta audience with their rendition of Swan Lake. Set to the music of Russian composer Pytor Ilyich Tchaikovsky, the presentation was graceful and well synchronised. The women made a pretty picture in white and gold Mohiniattam drapes, hair done up in side buns and decorated with white flowers. The movements were an eclectic blend of ballet, Mohiniattam and chhau. Tiny feet movements, swirls, turns and expressions made up the performance. Vijayalakshmi in the role of Odette was impressive — sensitive and conveying her thoughts effortlessly through the movements.

The Telegraph, Calcutta

“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.”

Indian Express

“Vijayalakshmi’s recital beginning with the customary Ganapati Stuti was all about feminine delicacy and softness, about ragas and taalas about sensuous swirling footwork and poetry of body. Be it when she delighted with Mukhachalam stringing together with rhythmic patters flowing into each other exemplifying the technique of this unique and extraordinary form…this winner of Mohiniyattam dance is busy rewriting the repertoire of Mohiniyattam breathing fresh perspective into tradition and creating choreographies on the new contemporary themes.”

Indian Express

“Bharati Shivaji and her disciple-daughter, Vijayalakshmi flowed harmoniously in the undulated circles of Mohiniyattam, the most sensual of the styles. It was a graceful end to an enlightened trip.”

The Guardian, Edinburgh

Curves, sweeps, a gloriously swaying gait, and somehow a sense of joy and well-being: Mohiniattam as presented by Bharati Shivaji and her disciple-daughter Vijayalakshmi. Their duet as friends musing on the identity of a handsome man was delectable.

The Herald, UK

Bharati Shivaji was the complete embodiment of this most feminine of dance styles. Joined by her daughter, Vijayalakshmi, on one occasion the symmetric unison gave the dance a new edge.


Her eyes talked in the language of rhythm as she performed the dance of the enchantress this evening. Weaving a tale of grace and sensuality on the performance space of Tagore Theatre, Vijayalakshmi today reminded the audience of her mother and guru, Bharati Shivaji, who shares the unique credit of popularising mohiniattam, the traditional dance of Kerala.

The Tribune, Chandigarh


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