A french dance affair

Tête-à-tête with French Mohiniyattam dancer and choreographer Brigitte Chataignier, who was in T’Puram for a two-day dance workshop 

author_img Arya U R Published :  01st June 2022 01:28 PM   |   Published :   |  01st June 2022 01:28 PM
traditional classical dance of Kerala

traditional classical dance of Kerala

Caressing her long hair with her fingers tips, Brigitte Chataignier, the French Mohiniyattam dancer and choreographer, talks in-depth about t

Caressing her long hair with her fingers tips, Brigitte Chataignier, the French Mohiniyattam dancer and choreographer, talks in-depth about the traditional classical dance of Kerala. The 60-year-old dancer’s love for Mohiniyattam is evident from the way her kohled eyes light up when she talks about it. Her acquaintance with Kerala and its culture is over three decades-long, but the artist is still not fluent in Malayalam. She has trained under Padmashri Kalamandalam Kshemavathy and was in the capital city for a dance workshop organised by Alliance Française de Trivandrum.

Brigitte was introduced to Mohiniyattam in 1986. She joined the Kerala Kalamandalam in Cheruthuruthi and studied dance for seven years. A contemporary artist from France, Brigitte could make many personal contributions to the art form while exploring her artistic expressions. For instance, contemporary classical choreography pieces like Gopika, Ganga and Bhopal Blue. 

Brigitte Chataignier

And this mix is what helps Brigitte stand out. Her contemporary productions combine tradition and modernity. She researches each of them deeply, even as she is shuttling between Kerala and France. But she chooses to perform classical Mohiniyattam pieces and contemporary additions separately. She is also an artist for the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR).

Talking about her two-day workshop in the capital city, Brigitte says it was meant for dancers to meditate with their minds and body. “This was inspired by classical and contemporary techniques in dance. It was a conversational workshop and the idea was to share the movements while preparing for the creativity piece. Talking is also an important part of these workshops as we should share our perspectives about music or theme. Observing and describing our emotions are good for creativity,” she says.

The artist performs in the traditional Mohiniyattam dress made of white kasavu. She believes solo performances bring out the real charm of Mohiniyattam pieces. “I feel comfortable performing Mohiniyattam solo. I am not keen on performing fusion pieces in groups. For me, interpreting themes in Mohiniyattam is still a challenge, apart from the traditional padams,” says the artist who looks forward to performing at the upcoming Soorya festival.

Brigitte is currently working on a contemporary production titled Mala. “It is a solo contemporary piece that blends music, poetry, dance and visuals. I wish to conduct a national and international tour of the production, so it will be communicated in English. It will be an abstract art production,” she says.  Her production company in France named Cie Prana promotes Kerala’s art forms and provides Indian artists with a platform to perform in France.