Kathakali- the world famous classical dance form of India

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Kathakali is one of the most pictured and propagated classical art form in south Indian state Kerala. It is an art of narrating a story through the dance performance along with facial expressions , movements and hand gestures ( mudras) . The micro expressions using eyebrow, chin, lips , eyes etc are aptly used during the performance for communicating the emotions of characters and intensity of the scene played.There will be song in the background ( in Malayalam language) along with the music. The dancers / actors on stage give the visual explanation to the story told in the song through their performances. Mostly stories from “Ramamyana” or “Mahabharata” are adapted for Kathakali performance. But in recent times stories from Holy Bible, Shakespeare dramas etc are also adapted for the performance.

Location: Kerala, India

History of Kathakali

  1. The elements and aspects of Kathakali is based on the book “Natyasastra” by sage Bharata
  2. The Kathakali is said to be evovled 400- 500 years back from ancient art forms like “Kutiyaattam” and “Krishnanattam”
  3. Kottarakara Thampuran ( a.k.a Veera Kerala Varma) is said to be the one who created a new art form “Ramanattam” from the classical dance form”Krishnanattam” .Ramanattam later lead to the evolvement of Kathakali
  4. In 18th century Kapplingattu Nampoothiri made some corrections in the make up and performances which is still followed up today
  5. Great Kerala poet Vallathol Narayana Menon with the help of royalty Mukunda Raja revived Kathakali by establishing an institue Kerala Kalamandalam and it helped in gaining a global acceptance for Kathakali during early 1930s

Technical aspects of Kathakali

  1. Instruments such as Chenda, Maddalam, Idakka ( all different forms of drums) Ilathalam and chengalam( metalphones)
  2. The make up code includes pacha/ green colour for noble characters ( eg: Ram, Krishna etc)
  3. Kari / black colour is used for forest dwellers and female evil characters( eg: Shoorpanakha)
  4. Kati / red make up is used for the evil characters ( eg:Ravan)
  5. Minukku / Yellow(Saffron) is used for saintly characters and female characters( eg: Narada, Sita)
  6. Vellathadi / White beard represents divine beings ( eg: Hanuman)

Where you can watch Kathakali

  1. Kerala Kalamandalam ( Cheruthuruthy)
  2. Folk lore museum ( Kochi)
  3. Kathakali club( Kochi)
  4. Kerala Kathakali centre(Kochi)
  5. Margi (Thiruvananthapuram)

Contempory artists

  1. Sadanam Krishnankutty
  2. Kalamandalam Krishnaprasad
  3. Kalaynilayam Rajasekhar
  4. Kottakal Nanda Kumar
  5. FACT Padmanabhan
  6. Usha Priyadarshini
  7. Geetha Varma

Photo courtesy : By നിരക്ഷരൻ – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14833543


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