Dance guru Mandakini Trivedi announces three-year free scholarship in Mohini Attam

 Dance guru Mandakini Trivedi announces three-year free scholarship in Mohini Attam

She is extremely soft spoken, graceful, elegant and dignified which beckons to know this sophisticated Mohini Attam dance guru Mandakini Trivedi. To popularise and to take the art of Mohini Attam to dancers and dance enthusiasts all over the world, she recently announced a three-year free intensive training scholarship program in the dance form, a step that very few dance gurus take to popularise their art. I spoke with the Sangeet Natak Akademi Awardee and she openly spoke about why she is doing such a noble deed:

What made you start this scholarship program?
The idea came from Beena Sharma, The Vertical Development Academy (VeDA). She was trained at my institute Nateshvari is at three levels viz Skill Building (acquiring dance skills through rigorous training in dance along with nutrition & fitness), Understanding Building (through a study of principles of Indian aesthetics, alongside an in-depth understanding of the symbols & philosophy hidden in the content of Classical Indian Dance) and Awareness Building (through a first-hand experience of the Yoga embedded in Classical Indian Dance).
She also found the Nateshvari choreographies edgy, moving and enjoyable, and felt these choreographies needed to be transmitted to young and able bodies in order to be preserved.

Mandakini Trivedi

In today’s times when money and art go hand in hand you are offering totally free training. Why so?
Nateshvari is financially supported by VeDA so that the burden of training does not fall on the student. That would be an incentive for students to train seriously, imbibe the values and be committed to the sadhana of performing.


As a guru what do you expect from your student who wish to apply for this scholarship?
Dedication and commitment to the values of the practice of a Transcendental Art like classical Indian Dance. There is a misconception, even fear, that if ‘values’ are stressed, performance will take a back seat and the very back-bone of a performing art will be lost. This fear is baseless. Values are embedded in the form and that understanding will only make performing more significant & less decorative. We underestimate the sensitivity of a young dance student if rightly guided.
Due to many kinds of political & cultural fragmentation that have happened in the past, we have compartmentalised our performing arts into theory & practice and divorced performing from its deeper meanings and layers. We need to change this and bring in a more integrated approach. I expect the student to understand The Whole of this art.

Please tell me more about the scholarship program and what all will it contain?
I believe that principles of Indian aesthetics, yoga, religion, philosophy, literature and music have to be an integral part of training and should be shared with the student on the dance floor, while dance training is happening, and not as separate theory course, leaving the student to join the dots and make the connections and conclusions. The programme will, through the teaching of my solo choreographies in Mohini Attam, share all of the above. The programme is also meant to usher in a dialogue on Mohini Attam choreographies and focus on challenging dance pieces and not ‘Styles’ in Mohini Attam as is current in the field of Mohini Attam. I believe that ‘Style’ is a medium to say ‘something’ profound, sensitive and insightful in an interesting, watchable, absorbing way. Obsession with ‘Style’ cannot carry an art form. The emphasis of this programme is therefore on engaging choreographies.

Mandakini Trivedi

What is going to be your selection process?
Besides good dancing skills and some training in the form, there will be an emphasis on sensitivity to understand this vison of a Transcendental Art and the values of Indian Aesthetics. Paradoxically, these days one finds superbly trained performers that are insensitive to the depth, subtility and devotion in Indian Dance. It is rare to find a sensitive student. I am looking for such students. It is easy to give technique and performing skills to such a student but not so easy to give depth and sensitivity to a merely efficient performer.


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