Indian Classical Dance - Kathakali Dance
Kathakali Dance

Kathakali is the classical dance-drama of Kerala, South India, which dates from the 17th century and is rooted in Hindu mythology. Kathakali is a group presentation, in which dancers take various roles in performances traditionally based on themes from Hindu mythology, especially the two epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.

Kathakali is a harmonious combination of five forms of fine art:
1. Literature (Sahithyam)
2. Music (Sangeetham)
3. Painting (Chithram)
4. Acting (Natyam)
5. Dance (Nritham)

The role of each of these art forms is very vital in the making of Kathakali what it is, the King of performing arts, particularly theatre.

Traditionally there are 101 classical Kathakali stories, though the commonly staged among them these days total less than one-third that number. Almost all of them were initially composed to last a whole night.
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The language of the songs used for Kathakali is Manipravalam.

A Kathakali actor uses immense concentration, skill and physical stamina, gained from regimented training based on Kalaripayattu, the ancient martial art of Kerala, to prepare for his demanding role. The training can often last for 8–10 years, and is intensive. Dancers also undergo special practice sessions to learn control of their eye movements.

In Kathakali, the story is enacted purely by the movements of the hands (called mudras or hand gestures) and by facial expressions (rasas) and bodily movements. There are 24 basic mudras -- the permutation and combination of which would add up a chunk of the hand gestures in vogue today. Each can again can be classified into 'Samaana-mudras'(one mudra symbolising two entities) or misra-mudras (both the hands are used to show these mudras). The mudras are a form of sign language used to tell the story.

The main facial expressions of a Kathakali artist are the 'navarasams' literal translation: Nine Tastes, but more loosely translated as nine feelings or expressions which are
- Sringaram (amour)
- Hasyam (ridicule, humour)
- Bhayanakam (fear)
- Karunam (pathos)
- Roudram (anger, wrath)
-Veeram (valour)
- Beebhatsam (disgust)
- Adbhutam (wonder, amazement) and
- Shantam (tranquility, peace)

The headgear worn by the various characters in Kathakali are excellent specimen of intricate wood carving, an ancient speciality of the region. Even the shiny finishing with trinkets take hours of painstaking labour by expert craftsmen. Most of the ornaments donning each character are made in this fashion too.
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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