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Kerala Dances

Kerala have more than fifty well-known folk dances in Kerela. Some of the most popular dances are Kathakali, Mohiniyattam, Kolam Thullal, Padayani, Kolkali, Parichamuttukali, Thappukali, Kuravarkali, and Thiruvathirakali.

Kathakali
Kathakali is very popular dance form of Kerala. It is actually a dance drama performed mostly by male artists. Kathakali is treated to be one of the toughest dances. It requires complete control of the body- almost every fiber of it, and a sensitivity of emotion so as to render all its nuances through facial expression and land gestures. Kathakali consist of three fine arts. Abhinayam (acting), Nrityam (dancing) and Geetam (singing). The actors enact their roles with the help of Mudras or hand gestures. The 'mudras' are 25 in number, while the 'upa mudras' are 700 in number. Expressions of face and eyes hold the key to perfection.

Mohiniyattam
Mohiniyattam is a fusion of “Bharathanatyam and Kathakali as it combines the graceful elegance of Bharathanatyam and dynamism and vigor of Kathakali. The performances are done only by women’s. In Mohniattayam, the Lasya element of dancing is predominant, and the mood created in Sringarma (erotic). It literally means the “Dance of the Temptress”. It depicts emotions in ways which are universally understood. It falls within the soft, graceful traditions of - lasya - the expression of the cosmic feminine creativity.

Bharat Natyam
‘Bharatha Muni’ is said to have learned the basics of the dance from Lord Shiva, and codified the principles in his book ‘Natyashastra, written in Sanskrit. The original text is still preserved in the temple libraries of Tanjore, the home of Bharathanatyam. The name 'Bharatha' is made up of the first three syllables of ‘bhava’ – the inner spiritual feelings; ‘raga' -the melody; and 'thala' - the rhythm. Bharathanatyam is normally practiced by women. The dancer artistically tells stories and events from the epics through mudras (movements of the hand and feet) and facial expressions. The dancer should have a strong and pliable body, good expressive face and eyes and an in-born, natural sense of rhythm.

Oppana
A dance form essential to the wedding entertainment and festivities of the Malabar Muslims. Maidens and young female relatives sing and dance around the bride, clapping their hands. The songs of Mappilappattu, are first sung by the leader and are repeated by the chorus.

Kalaripayattu
Kalaripayattu is possibly the oldest Martial art still practised in the world. This martial art form that originated in Kerala, India, derives its name from "Kalari" or the arena in which the combatants fight and "payattu" which means practice in Malayalam the language of Kerala.

Kolkali
Is a mixed dance in which both men and women participate. The performers move in a circle, stricking small sticks and keeping rhythm with special steps.

Mamangam
This huge and wonderful festival is a replication of the cultural extravaganza that used to be held every 12 years by the Zamorins (ancient rulers of Kozhikode) in the middle ages.
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