Kathakali Dance – UPSC GS1

Kathakali dance

  • Dazzling classical dance of Kerala is Kathakali.
  • ‘Katha’= Story or tale, ‘Kali’= Performance and Art.
  • Its roots are in ancient ‘Kutiyattam’ (Classical Sanskrit Dance Drama) and ‘Krishnattam’ (Dance-Drama depicting Stories of Hindu God Krishna).
  • Movements in Kathakali are influenced by ancient martial arts and athletic tradition.
  • It is basically a Dance-Drama.
  • Kathakali was traditionally a male-dominated dance and now females are too welcomed in this dance form.
  • Kathakali is also famous for its huge elaborate costumes, amazing make-up style, face masks, and ornaments.
  • Unlike other Classical Dances, Kathakali art form developed in the courts and theatres of Hindu principalities.
  • The traditional performances were used to be as long from Dusk to dawn. Modern day presentations are short as per the time limit of the program.
  • The Kerala Kalamandalam is the main center for Kathakali Artists.
  • Kathakali has similarities with other dance forms like that of the Japanese ‘ Noh’ and ‘Kabuki’ dance forms have similarities with Kathakali.


The main themes used in Kathakali

  • Mythological themes include Ramayan, Mahabharat, Bhagvat Purana, etc.
  • Also modern day Kathakali dancers present stories and plays of Shakespeare


The makeup for Kathakali

  • According to the role of the dancer, his face is colored/painted.
  • The colors are made in rice paste with vegetable colors and applied on the face.
  • The Green for Noble characters.
  • Tati (Red) for evil like Ravana.
  • Kari (black) for hunters and monsters.
  • Yellow for women etc.

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