Kathakali is a
traditional dance-drama of Kerala, which has had its origin from
the temples. It marks the culmination of the evolution of
various ritualistic, religious, folk and classical dance-drama
traditions of Kerala. It incorporates many dance forms of this
region especially Kudiyattam, Theyyams, Mudiyattam and the
martial arts of Kalaripayattu. The great poet Vallathol is
credited with the resuscitating of Kathakali in the 1930s.
Kathakali is generally performed in open air on a stage
covered with coarse mats. The only lighting used is a brass
lamp. Continuous thundering of the drums, Chenda and Maddala
precede the Mangalacharan, an invocation to the Gods and the
main dance. This type of pure dance is called Thodayam. This
dance is filled with abhinaya and the dancers dance to
the themes from Ramayana, Mahabharata, the Puranas or the Vedas.
The dancers enact every nuance and event and portray the
subtlest passions to perfection. Kathakali draws heavily from
drama and is danced with elaborate masks and costumes. The
dancers adorn themselves in huge skirts and head-dresses,
wearing a most intricate style of make-up. The dance, which
begins in the night, concludes with the arrival of dawn.
Kathakali has now gone global, with performances of The Ilead,
Medea and other dramatic works, translated into chaste Sanskrit
or Malayalam. The Kalamandalam is perhaps the best-known troupe
of Kathakali performers.
Famous Exponents: Kalamandalam
Murali, Kalamandalam Gopi, Guru Raghavan Nair,
K.Shankaranarayan, Govindan Kutty, Revatti, K.Venkitt,
K.Vasunni, Raman Kutty Nair and Padmanabhan.