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Kerala Art & Culture

Bharata Natyam :
It is believed to be india's oldest form of classical dance. This dance form which is called poetry in motion, has its hoary origins in the natya sastra written about 4000 b.c. by sage bharatha. This art form grossly disallows new fangled innovations or gimmicks except in repertoire and forms of presentation. It was originally known as 'dasi attam,' a temple art performed by young women called 'devadasis.'

Bharatha natyam is commonly performed by women, but sometimes by men also. There are strict guidelines laid down regarding every single aspect of the art including the attributes required in order to be an accomplished dancer.

Kathakali :
This spectacular classical dance drama of kerala based on the guidelines laid by sage bharatha's natya sastra, the ancient treatise on dance and drama, is over 500 years old. This elaborate art form is usually performed in the evenings and continues up to dawn, and is an integral part of all temple and cultural festivals in kerala. The costumes and makeup are ornamental, elaborate and designed to give a superhuman effect. The actors do not speak or sing but enact the story through mudras (hand gestures), graceful movements and facial expressions. The themes of this awe inspiring art are taken from india's rich and colourful mythology. Music is an essential feature of kathakali, with two vocalists who sing to the accompaniment of a chengila (gong), elathalam (small cymbals), chenda and maddalam.

Chakyarkoothu :
Also called koothu, is one of the oldest classical theatre arts of kerala. The solo dance is usually presented in the koothambalam of temples to the accompaniment of the mizhavu and elathalam. The performance begains with an invocation to the presiding deity of the temple. The narration is enlivened with the thandava dance movements, gestures and facial expression according to the guidelines in natya sastra. Koothu is distinct for its comic element which adds to its dramatic character. Themes are usually from the epics. The costume is colourful and bizarre with a strange headgear

Mohiniyattam:
This classical solo dance form combines the graceful elegance of bharatanatyam with the vigour and dynamism of kathakali, to create a mood that is predominantly sringara (erotic). The dance is usually performed on specially put up stages in connection with temple festivals. The costume is the traditional white mundu and melmundu of kerala. The hair is gathered and put up at the side of the head and adorned with jasmine, int the traditional style.

Kolkali :
Kolkali: is a group dance form of the farming community in kerala. Twelve to twenty four dancers move rhythmically in a circle around the ceremonial lamp, tapping the two feet long wooden sticks held in their hands.

Thiruvathirakali :
Thiruvathirakali is a classical dance form, which is a pointer to the old customs followed in the nair tharawads (joint families). In this dance form, the women of the house dance elegantly around the ceremonial lamp or floral decoration on festive occasions to the accompaniment of the thiruvathira pattu (song).
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