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The repertoire of Mohiniyattam includes music in the Carnatic style, singing and acting a play through the dance, where the recitation may be either by a separate vocalist or the dancer herself.
According to Justine Lemos, the conventional stereotype has been to label the temple dancers as prostitutes and that Mohiniyattam was banned by the Maharaja under pressure from the British rule and his citizens, but an examination of historical evidence suggests that neither did any law or proclamation ban Mohiniyattam nor is there any evidence that dancing girls of Mohiniyattam were devadasis, temple prostitutes or even menial servants of the temple.
The earliest evidence of Mohiniyattam, or a Mohiniyattam-like dance tradition is found in temple sculpture of Kerala.
The 11th century Vishnu temple at Trikodithanam, and the Kidangur Subramanya temple, have several sculptures of female dancers in Mohiniyattam pose.
The musical instruments usually used in Mohiniyattam are Mridangam or Madhalam (barrel drum), Idakka (hour glass drum), flute, Veena, and Kuzhitalam (cymbals).
The ragas (melody) are rendered in the sopana (steps) style, which is a slow melodic style with roots in the Natya Shastra.
The vocal music of Mohiniyattam involves various rhythms.