An enchanted evening!  
- Malathi Iyengar, California 

April 20, 2009 
Bharati Shivaji and Vijayalakshmi share pure talent, scholarship and creativity. 

The Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, California, houses an impressive collection of Indian paintings and sculptures. On Friday evening, the setting was just right to witness a classical Indian dance performance. Christine Knoke, curator of the museum introduced the dancers Bharati Shivaji and Vijayalakshmi. 

Mohiniattam, often called the Dance of the Enchantress, is a classical dance form that originated in the southern Indian state of Kerala. Bharati Shivaji and her daughter-disciple Vijayalakshmi are directors of Center for Mohiniattam.  Regarded as the leading exponents of Mohiniattam, they have revitalized the dance form through innovation and research.  

Bharati Shivaji opened the performance with 'Bala Ganapathi.' Her movements and expressions depicting Ganesha flowed like a river giving the feeling of endearment and reverence. 'Mukhachalam' performed by Vijayalakshmi revealed fine technique, exuberance, and exciting choreography. 'Dheera Sameere,' a Jayadeva's Ashtapadi engaged both the dancers in heightened level of sublime artistry as their souls merged into one as Radha and Krishna. Bharati Shivaji and Vijayalakshmi concluded the evening with 'Pandattam' based on poet Mahakavi Vallathol. The mother-daughter duo with their captivating stage presence held the audience interest throughout the evening. On occasion the symmetric unison gave the dance a new edge. 

Bharati Shivaji is the total epitome of elegance and beauty. She is exquisite in her facial expressions and dance technique, and her knowledge in the art form is vast. Bharati and Vijayalakshmi's performance revealed the very best of Mohiniattam encompassing fluid circular movements of the torso, gentle lifts, and deep bends. The professionally recorded music that accompanied the dance performance was of high order and provided the audience a wholesome experience. 

Bharati Shivaji is a recipient of numerous awards including India's highest honor Padma Shri for her research and development of the art of Mohiniattam.  

Malathi Iyengar is the choreographer and artistic director of Rangoli Dance Company.