Kathakali Indian Classical Dance-Drama

Kathakali Indian classical dance-drama. Kathakali is an art of high energy, rhythm, poetry, drama, dance, vocal and instrumental music. It’s vital and harmonious movements combine symbolism with magnificent subtleties of dramatic expression. The power of Kathakali comes from representing the emotional content of the stories of the Hindu gods with the beauty and grace of ‘abhinaya’ and ‘nritha’ (expressive acting and dance).

The Kathakali play is usually performed by actors who have undergone intensive physical training, practicing the traditional exercises of Kalaripayathu (ancient martial art of Kerala), giving them subtle body movements and great powers of endurance. They also go through a prolonged course of instruction in ‘abhinaya’, the portrayal of emotions through facial expressions, mimed by mudras.

The mudras are a complete language of manual gestures in prescribed patterns which enable the actor to interpret the words of the story and to communicate with each other and the audience. More than 3000 words can be mimed with mudras.

In Kathakali, facial expressions and movements are elaborate: eyes, eyebrows, chin, lips and neck are controlled separately, to function together. Every tiny movement on the face has its own significance in expressing the whole gamut of thought and emotion.

Kathakali holds a unique place in the world of theatrical arts. It is the crystallization of Kerala's rich artistic tradition culminating in a pantomimic art form of the highest order. Kathakali has its origins in the ancient rituals and Sanskrit plays (Koothu and Koodiyattam ) of Hindu temples. It is particularly renowned for its portrayal of events from the Indian epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. A performance of Kathakali is a journey into the magical world of gods, heroes, villains and demons.