Kathakali is a considerably newer performing art in India that has evolved from various social theatrical forms that existed in southern India. Krishnattam, Koodiyattam, Chakiarkoothu Andra manat tam are some of the ritualistic performing arts that are responsible for the emergence of the versatile Kathakali. It is danced in a group in which the dancers are uniquely costumed and convey a mythological story especially that of Mahabharata or Ramayana.
It was traditionally performed by male participants in theatres and courts of Hindu regions, thus, suggesting that they are quite different from the other Indian classical performing arts which were originally performed in temples and monastery schools.
Kathakali’s performance and music
A Kathakali performance begins with the calling of the audience (Keli kottu) followed by the todayam (basic dance), Purappadu (entrance of the main character), Tiranokku (curtain look by demons), Kummi (introduction of the female character), Kathakali (the central play), Kalaasam (performance of hyped dance as a break between two pieces of verse play) and lastly, Samaapanam (closing dance).
The dance sequence of Kathakali follows Kerala’s sopanasangeet which is considered as the ceremonial singing of the Ashtapadis. The orchestra of Kathakali includes two drums, the chenda and the maddalam, a percussion instrument, elataalam and cymbals. The orchestra is another striking feature of Kathakali that not only provides ambiance music for the dance but also creates unique expressive sound effects.
Costume and make-up
Kathakali’s costume and make-up code are the most striking and unique among all forms of Indian classical dance. There are seven fundamental make-up codes in Kathakali:
The spectacular costumes, accessories, lighting and music incorporate dance as a whole and the entire visual and hearing attributes of the performance come together. The costumes and makeups of Kathakali characterise the dancers either as saints, gods, goddesses, animals or demons.
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