Kathakali is a popular classical dance-drama originating in Kerala. The history of this dance form dates back to 17th century AD. Literal meaning of Kathakali is “Story-Play”. This ancient dance is an extraordinary combination of music, literature, painting, dance and acting.
Themes of Kathakali
Themes of Kathakali is religious in nature. It is associated with great epics – Mahabharata and Ramayana and the ancient scriptures, Puranas. The lyrics of Kathakali is generally in Malayalam with a touch of Sanskrit.
Art of Kathakali
Kathakali dance comprises of Rasa and Mudras. Rasa are the different forms of facial expressions to express psychic conditions. Mudras are different types of hand poses and body movements used to express the emotions.
Performers of Kathakali
Kathakali is one of the major social events organised in Kerala. As the sunsets, this beautiful classical dance is started and goes on through out the night. The whole ambiance is filled with folk music and eyes of viewer trace every single step of Kathakali performers. The dance is usually performed by only men. The female character in the dance are portrayed by males, dressed in female's attires. However, in recent years, women have also started taking an active part in performing Kathakali.
Costumes and Make-up of Kathakali Performers
The elaborate costumes and make-up of Kathakali performers have fascinated the viewers a lot. Costumes and make-up play a vital role in the dance as each character is recognized by it only. Traditional attires are bright colored and very heavy and large. There are several kinds of costumes which tell about the character like Kathi for vilan, Sathwika – Hero, Minukku for females and Thatti.
The make-up is very dark and elaborate of Kathakali performers. It appears more like a mask. The white color is prepared from rice flour, black is made from soot and red is made from Vermilion.
Instruments used in Kathakali
Several traditional instruments are used to produce music in Kathakali. Chenda, Manjira and Shuddha madalam are commonly used in the classical dance.