(Last Updated on : 08/08/2013)
Dances of Kerala
. Besides these, Theyyam
, Krishnanattom and Koottiyattam
are also practiced in Kerala. The traditional dance forms mainly draw inspiration from the ancient texts and epics. Hence the subjects of these performances are episodes from various legends and myths of India
Kathakali is one of the most well known dance forms in Kerala. It would be more appropriate to term Kathakali as dance-drama. This form of art involves flamboyance and lot of toil. This form of dance involves a unique combination ballet, pantomime, opera and masque. Kathakali dancers dance with elaborately painted faces and embellished headgears. Great significance is laid upon the make-up or 'Vesham' which are essentially of five different types like Pacha, Kathi, Thadi, Kari and Minukka.
Mohiniattam is believed to be the dance of enchantress. Superficially Mohiniattam resembles the Tamil classical dance, Bharatnatyam
, but it is less complex in its mime, and, in comparison, rustically vigorous and angular. It is a very ancient dance, originally practised by women of the Nambiar caste and associated with the temples; outside the sanctuary of the 12th-century temple at Trivikramangalam there are relief carvings of sacred dancers who are found to be performing an early type of Mohiniattam. This type of dance consists of some of the characteristics of Kuchipudi
and Bharatnatyam. Mohiniyattam dance is said to explain the story of a mythological character named Mohini
and the dance steps are quite graceful. The songs sung while performing this dance is generally in Malayalam
Theyyam is another important dance of Kerala
. It is also known as Thirayattam. However this dance form belongs to the folk traditions. Theyyam is a performed to glorify Goddess Kali
. The word literally means Goddess and is often considered to be a corrupt form of 'Daivam.' There are customary dances as well, like, the Thiruathirakkali Dance. This dance takes place during marriage ceremonies. The women enact this dance while wishing a happy life to the married couples. Traditionally Thiruathirakkali Dance is part of the customs followed by the Nair families. It is performed in the month of Dhanu (December-January).
Koodiyattam dance is a traditional dance of Kerala in which Sanskrit
dramas are enacted skilfully. The theme is based on rituals and religions. The dancers perform Koodiyattam on a specially constructed stage termed as 'Koothambalam'. Communities of Chakyar caste is usually done by these dancers.
In Kerala, Velakali is still performed in certain temples. The dancers are dressed up as warriors and carry wooden swords and shields. It is often seen that make up and costume play an important role in the dances of Kerala
. In certain dance forms, different kinds of make-up are used on the dancers depending on the characters they portray on the stage. The use of masks is also common. So whether it is Kathakali or Velakali, attires and make-up are given proper attention.
Thiruvathirakali is performed by the womenfolk belonging to Hindu community. This is a beautiful group dance of Kerala and is done during festivals like the 'Thiruvathira' day as well as Onam
. Dancers follow a circular form of movement while doing this dance and clap their dance.
Krishnanattam dance is inspired by folk dances like 'Mudiyattam', 'Theyyam' and others. Costumes, headdresses and make-up utilized in Krishnanattam dance are all influenced by the above mentioned folk dances. A devotee of Lord Krishna
named Vilwamangalam is said to have designed the costumes of this form of dance.
Duffmuttu is quite popular with the Muslim population of Kerala. The roots of this dance form lies in Arabic music. Even today the music that accompanies the dance performance is Arabic. The name of the dance originates from the musical instrument that is used in this form of dance, known as the Daff, a percussion instrument.
Oppanna is a special form of dance practised by the Muslims in Kerala. This bridal dance is done the last day prior to the marriage. The dance is considered an essential marriage custom in the state of Kerala, particularly in the Malabar area of Kerala. This dance is performed by young, female relatives of the bride.
The varied and interesting dances of Kerala have definitely enriched its art and culture over the years. Art has flourished in Kerala since the ancient times. Amongst a host of performing arts, dance has always taken the centre-stage in Kerala. Martial dances are also common in south India.