Kathakali dance

  • IASbaba
  • January 27, 2022
  • 0
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Kathakali dance

Part of: Prelims and Mains GS-I: Indian culture

In news: PM condoles demise of noted Kathakali dancer Ms. Milena Salvini

About Kathakali dance

  • Kathakali is a blend of dance, music and acting and dramatizes stories, which are mostly adapted from the Indian epics. 
    • One of the eight classical dances of India
    • It is a stylised art form, the four aspects of abhinaya – angika, aharya, vachika, satvika and the nritta, nritya and natya aspects are combined perfectly. 
    • The dancer expresses himself through codified hastamudras and facial expressions, closely following the verses (padams) that are sung. 
    • Kathakali derives its textual sanction from Balarama Bharatam and Hastalakshana Deepika.
    • Kathakali symbolizes sky or ether.
  • State: Kerala; The face of a Kathakali dancer being the logo of Kerala tourism
  • Practiced by only male dancers, however, the last few years have seen a leap in the involvement of women in Kathakali (Mrinalini Sarabhai).
    • Originated as part of the bhakti movement and is believed to have been performed by soldiers of the kingdom, as the plays were written by a prince himself. 
    • Since they were well-trained in the martial art of kalari, troupes that followed in their footsteps all across the land also implemented rigorous exercises as part of the training process. And thence started the practice of body massages using the feet (chavitty uzhichil). This practice is believed to be one major reason why women were not welcome in exploring the art.
  • Unique names
    • Aharya: Make-up is suited to character like Krishna and Rama wear special crown decorated with peacock feathers.
    • Todayam: It is a devotional number performed where one or two characters invoke the blessings of the gods
    • Sopana sangeet: It is said to be the ritual singing of the Ashtapadis on the flight of steps leading to the sanctum sanctorum.
  • Unique Features
    • Costumes: Unlike other dance forms, the use of elaborate makeup and costumes are central to Kathakali. They used to differentiate between different characters in story telling such as a Noble, a Royalty, an evil etc.
    • Facial expressions: While most other dance forms like Bharatnatyam and Odissi focus on hand gestures and body postures, a Kathakali dancer emphasizes on their facial expressions instead to depict various emotions. Here body movements are specifically controlled.
    • Music: Heavy use of drums to create an overwhelming and loud environment to showcase the conflict between good and evil. 
  • Chakiarkoothu, Koodiyattam, Krishnattam and Ramanattam are few of the ritual performing arts of Kerala which have had a direct influence on Kathakali in its form and technique.

News Source: PIB

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