Higher Studies in Music


Classical Dances of Kerela



Kerala, popularly known as god’s own country and the land of art forms and festivals is full of a multitude of communities contributing towards the state’s diversity in the form of arts. It’s here that the legends come back to life. Several eminent and globally acknowledged dance forms have their origins associated with Kerala. Its varied and interesting dances have enriched its art and culture over the years. Art has flourished in Kerala since ancient times. Among a variety of performing arts, dance has always been the centre of attention in Kerala. Martial dances are also widespread in South India. These dance forms are unique in their execution with wonderful expressions performed by the best dancers. Performers are decked out in attractive costumes and ornaments that add charm to the dance. Kerala has around 50 dance forms. Therefore, Kerala is known for its two classical dance forms, “Kathakali” and “Mohiniyattam”, which attract tourists from all over the world.





“Kathakali”, a very important genre of Indian classical dance, is related to the narrative kind of this art. Like different classical dance arts in India, the story of “Kathakali” is sent to the audience through glorious footwork and complex and dramatic hand gestures, empathetic facial expressions complemented by music and vocal performances. However, it differs from the others within the convoluted and vivacious makeup, the distinctive masks and elaborate costumes of the dancers and their designs and movements, reflective the sporting conventions and ancient in style martial arts in and around Kerala. Historically performed by male dancers, it had been performed in courtyards and theatres in Hindu regions, in distinction to different classical Indian dances that were performed in the main in temples and cloister schools of Hinduism. Though there aren’t any obvious traces, this type of classical dance is believed to possess originated in temples and genres from or before the primary millennium AD. Combining classical dance, theatre, opera, and pantomime, Kathakali may be vibrant, completely haunting Keralan art form. Though it was formalized within the seventeenth century; students recommend its origins in ancient spiritual ceremonies return a lot further.





First developed in South Asian nation as a temple dance, Mohiniyattam has ancient roots to Natya Shastra, just like alternative Indian classical dance forms, it adheres to the Lasya sort that showcases an additional graceful, mild, and female type of dancing. The dance type takes inspiration from Mohini—an enchantress avatar of Vishnu—and is supposed to transmit the various varieties of female love. The standard Mohiniyattam performance consists of a solo dancer performing elaborate choreography, generally with the accompaniment of another instrumentalist, wherever the song is usually in Manipravala that could be a mixture of Sanskritic language and South Dravidian language and therefore the recitation is also either performed by the dancer herself or by a vocalist with the music vogue being Carnatic.





Koothu is a storytelling art form based on Hindu mythology and epics that is largely performed orally with the use of acting and hand gestures. Within the past days, it was confined to temple premises. Nangyarkoothu, a classical kind of Kerala, maybe an in-style temple art form of Kerala. The art form was performed by Nangyars, the feminine members of the Nambiar community, and thus this name. This kind evolved as an impact of Kutiyattam, the living example of ancient Sanskritic language theatre (and that has earned UNESCO Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity standing as a result) is performed by females alone and so a similar facial conjures and costumes of the feminine characters of Kutiyattam is employed for this too. A dramatized dance type with spiritual origins, Nangyar Koothu is supposed to depict episodes from the lifetime of Lord Krishna, which are sent through precise choreography, gestures, and ef fective facial expressions. Strong, music accompaniment is additionally a key part of Nangyar Koothu performances.





This variety was only performed by members of the Chakyar community, hence the name Chakyar Koothu. This was performed in temple theatres referred to as Koothambalam. In Chakyar Koothu the entire story is given by one performer. The costumes are that of a court jester. Facial make-up is completed with rice powder, turmeric powder, and black powder. He wears an ornament in one ear and a pepper vine leaf in the other. In the backdrop, an accompanying performer plays the percussion instrument Mizhavu. Chakyar Koothu’s highlights include satire, social critique, humour, and intertwined stories or incidents told throughout the performance. Within the past days of royalty, the Chakyar had the right to criticize even the King and his acts whereas acting. The practice was that the audience ought to hear the Chakyar and settle for his criticisms. Any opposition to comments created by the Chakyar while performing would have a crystal rectifier to a finish in the performance of the variety in this premises forever.





It may not strictly be a classical dance, however of all of Kerala’s made and individual cultural traditions, few are as dynamic—or as thrilling to watch—as Kalaripayattu. An ancient self-defence kind that’s thought to be the primary within the world, its origin’s purpose to ancient modes of warfare. Participants jump into the air in twining shapes and lunge and feint acrobatically, frequently armed with swords, daggers, shields, and other wood weapons. Kalaripayattu was established in Kerala and is considered one of the world’s oldest and most scientific martial arts. It is recognised and revered all over the world as Kerala’s pride and joy. The job starts with a full-body oil massage till the body is flexible and supple. Chattom (jumping), ottam (running), and marichil are examples of the art form (somersaulting). There are also lessons in victimization weapons like swords, daggers, spears, maces, and bows and arrows. the primary aim is that the ultimate coordination between mind and body. Another focus of Kalaripayattu is specialization in autochthonous healthful observes. Kalaris also are vital centers of non-secular worship. Once the course is complete, one ought to have interaction in oil massage and practice to take care of shape.





A popular dance kind of the Malabar region of Kerala is named Theyyam. Theyyam and its rituals are in observe for thousands of years in this region. it’s very hyped because the lower caste folks have access to it. It’s a Dravidian kind and sacred ritual dancing to worship and glorify goddess Kaali. The word ‘Theyyam’ is claimed to be the corrupted form of ‘Daivam’, the Malayalam word, which suggests God.





It is performed by a bunch of sixteen to twenty-four dancers from agricultural classes in north Kerala. This dance kind is extremely rhythmic, they beat these sticks, whereas acquiring a circular motion. Usually, there are concerning sixteen performers on stage who move about in a circle, hanging little picket sticks as props and keeping rhythm with special steps. The circle expands and contracts because the dance progresses. Here, one will see 2 teams of players, one inside and the other team outside. As they keep ever-changing positions, this can be termed as ‘Kolkali’. Even then, the players come to their original positions. The pitch of the music rises conjointly the dance reaches its climax. Kolkali, like Poorakali, has taken components from Kalaripayattu. The body postures, choreography, and footwork are terribly just like that of Kalaripayattu. Poorakali also has the Vandanam, Kalithozhal, and Chinthu.





This dance kind was originated within the eighteenth century and has become a well-liked dance variety of Kerala. it’s aforesaid that celebrated South Dravidian poet, Kalakkaththu Kunchan Nambiar created this dance form. Ottamthullal may be a cluster dance performed sporting make-up and vivacious costumes. A dancer narrates a story supported by mythology.





India is a culturally diverse country with nearly every state having its own language, food, and dancing styles. India’s dance forms are varied and all of which are breathtaking. Kerala has given a plethora of classical dance forms which have attracted generations from India and around the world to learn these art forms. Each form gives a new spectrum of expression which is still relevant to this day after centuries since the inception of the different classical dance forms. It is a testament to Kerala’s beauty and diversity which keep true of its title, “God’s own country”.

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