For Mohiniyattam exponent Methil Devika, performing at Khajuraho "which has so much divine energy" was like a dream come true and she was overwhelmed by the experience.
Devika, who performed at the 42nd edition of the Khajuraho dance festival, says that it was a divine experience.
"While performing, I experienced potent divine energy here, " says the danseuse, who is a recipient of Devadasi National Award, Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar and Kerala Sangeeta Nataka Akademi award.
Organised by Madhya Pradesh's culture department, the Khajuraho festival, held February 20 - 26, brought together some of the renowned artistes from different classical dance forms like Kuchipudi, Bharatanatyam, Kathak and Odissi.
The artiste, who enticed the audience by her unconventional take on Mohiniyattam, feels that one is blessed to perform in front of the Chitragupta Temple dedicated to Surya, the Hindu sun god, and the Vishwanatha Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva.
"If earlier, Khajuraho was all about splendour, dance, and publicity, now I see it in a different light. One has to be blessed to perform here. The energy is tremendous, " said Devika, who is also trained in Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi.
She feels that Khajuraho has a prominent place in promoting classical dances.
"Khajuraho is on the top of the list of every artiste. When Khajuraho gives you the chance, you know that you are there. There are very few stages in India which are as significant as this. The festival not only promotes the venue, but also inculcates a desire amongst dancers to vie for excellence, " she said.
Watching Devika's 40 - minutes rendition was a different experience as she uses the stage for inducing new styles. She said that she thrives to bring a new connotation to Mohiniyattam, which means "dance of the enchantress" and has the "lasya" as its predominant move.
"As a dancer, I believe that one needs to revive the art form. One should explore further within the grammar. For me, lasya only means a solo art form, an art form which can tell the stories of love. I want to define enchantment as the enchantment of one's own soul, " she said.
The danseuse, who is in quest to redefine the concept of lasya, began her rendition with an invocatory piece on Shivshakti from Soundarya Lahari.
As she continued with padam composed by Swati Tirunal portraying the unconsumated love of the nayika on account of her Lord Vishnu, audience were in for a mesmerising experience. Whether it was the roudram in her tribute to goddess Mahakali or Tandav by Lord Shiva, Devika has attempted a deviation from usual style.
"For me, it is all about exploring the potential of an art form. I find Mahakali enchanting because she has the power to destroy the evil, " said Devika adding that art has to benefit society.
She also believes that whether it's contemporary or folk dance, it has to elevate the masses.
"Contemporary dance means taking a dance back to the roots. If I learn martial art tomorrow, I can do contemporary Mohiniyattam. It's all about tapping the potential of an art form to heal or inducing a style, " said Devika, who is also a dance research scholar.
(Preetha Nair was in Khajuraho at the invitation of Madhya Pradesh's culture department. She can be contacted at preetha. n@ians. in)