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Mohiniyattam performer Methil Devika to grace New England stage

Methil Devika in Cilapatikaram
Methil Devika in Cilapatikaram
Methil Devika

The New England Malayalee Association (NEMA) will host a recital by India-based Mohiniyattam exponent Methil Devika on Sunday, May 18 at 5:30 p.m. at Chinmaya Mission Boston. The recital, which is a benefit program for Sankara Cancer Foundation, is a rare opportunity for the New England audience to experience a centuries-old classical dance form that originated in Kerala, India.

Currently the Artistic Director of Sripada Natya Kalari in Palakkad, Kerala, Methil Devika is recognized by the artistic fraternity for her contributions as a performer, educator and scholar in Mohiniyattam. An empanelled artist with SPIC MACAY and Indian Council for Cultural Relations, Devika's talent and ability to captivate audiences with her story telling have earned her the epithets of "a thinking dancer" and "queen of abhinaya" from dance critics.

Methil Devika's Mohiniyattam is firmly rooted in the Kalamandalam school of dance; her gurus include Kalamandalam Leelamma and Girija Chandran, a disciple of Kalamandalam Kalyanikuttyamma. Devika has received two national awards, the Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar from Kendra Sangeet Natak Akademi and the Devdasi National award from Devdasi Nrutya Mandir of Orissa, in addition to the Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi Award for Mohiniyattam. She has performed at prestigious venues and banners across the world and in India, including The Music Academy, Madras, and Soorya Festival.

Mohiniyattam, which literally translates to "the dance of the enchantress," is one of the major classical dance forms of India. Characterized by the dancer's circular movements, Mohiniyattam is described as graceful, sensuous and feminine, in which the dancer uses elaborate hand gestures, eye movements and footwork to tell stories. The slower pace of Mohiniyattam also sets it apart from the other Indian classical dance styles.

The recital on May 18th will follow a traditional format. "My performance will appeal to all ages and backgrounds," says Devika. "Although the dance items will be rooted in mythological stories, the emotions they portray are universal," she adds.

"I am grateful for this opportunity to perform under NEMA's auspices and benefit the work of Sankara Cancer Foundation in the areas of breast cancer education and screening for women," Methil Devika says. "Mohiniyattam is a woman-centric dance form. If my performance can aid the community of women at large, then it's elevating - not just for the audience but also for the women who benefit from Sankara Cancer's goal of universal screening."

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