Kathakali Dance: A Colorful Representation of Rich Culture

Kerala Kathakali Dance
Kerala Kathakali Dance

The profound facial make-up, colorful costumes and various designed ornaments of Kathakali Dance scares me when I was child. As days passes I grow up and learned that colors are reflection of human temperament which play significant role while traditional folk dance presentations. I learned several new facts about this folk dance of Kerala which transformed my childhood fear into an appealing aspect. For the first time I experienced the live performance of Kerala Kathakali Dance during my Kerala Tour last week. I was in Kerala for my official conference and after attending it I rushed to see this cultural event at Margi Art Theater in Thiruvananthapuram.

Etymologically Kathakali stems from the Malayalam words ‘Katha’ (story) and ‘Kali’ (play). Themes of this story dance based on Indian epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana. The story is narrated through proper mudras or hand gestures with a verse of the story sung in the background. This dance is a combination of five elements of fine art which includes expressions (Natyam) emphasis on facial expressions, Dance (Nritham) emphasis on rhythm and movement of hands, legs and body, Enactment (Nrithyam) emphasis on ‘mudras’ hand gestures, (Geetha) song/vocal accompaniment and (Vadyam) instrument accompaniment.

Apart from this there are several kinds of costume such as Sathwika (the hero), Kathi (the villain), Minukku (females) and Thatti. Each character of this dance is recognized by their characteristic makeup and costume.

The Kathakali show that I watched based on the theme of Ramayana in which characters of Lord Rama and King Ravana presented by artists. They portrayed the good and evil characters so efficiently that one can understand it without even music and narrations. The story of how good wins over evil is presented through facial gestures, various dance steps and hand movements which stolen my heart most during the show. The story was superbly presented and prefect coordination with ballads efficiently conveyed the messages to the audience. Throughout the show I was captivated by the facial gestures, rhythmic flow of body, various dance steps and artistic finger movements which convey several meanings.

After watching the Kathakali performance I realized that it much more than dance because its performance effectively combines the 5 major fine arts namely, literature (Sahityam), music (Sangeetham), Painting (Chitram), acting (Natyam) and dance (Nrithyam).This dance performance touched my soul and made me speechless. With various fascinating thoughts of this rich cultural presentation I returned to my hotel.

Posted on September 9th, 2010 by Jagjit  |  Comments Off