Kerala is a south Indian state also known as God’s own country. It is beautiful place rich in cultural heritage. Dance has been an integral part of the state’s culture for centauries. While performing the classical dances of Kerala the dancers portrays some expressions in their faces this makes these dances different and beautiful. Each of these dance forms has different costumes and ornaments. Some also play stories from Indian epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. Let us see some of the classical dances of Kerala in detail.
Kathakali Kathakali is performed in theatres. Earlier only males were allowed to perform kathakali even if the character is male or female but now women are also allowed to learn this dance form. It is assumed that kathakali originated over 500 years ago and it originated at Kottarakkara in Kerala. This dance form is a combination of dance and drama along with music.
Mohiniattam It is another classical dance form of kerala. This dance form is performed only by women. Mohiniattam uses simple and elegant costumes. This dance form plays a scene from Indian epic in which lord Vishnu is portrayed as mohini or a celestial enchantress who tries to mesmerize the asuras or demons thereby helping the gods to get full share of a magical potion.
Kalaripayattu It is a martial dance form. Kalaripayattu is believed to be the mother of all martial arts. It is the oldest martial art. The combatants fight inside a closed arena called as kalari. In earlier days the disputes between landlords or courtiers were set with a fight of kalaripayattu. The main forms of kalaripayattu are northern kalari and southern kalari. Vadakkan kalari is practiced in the northern parts of Kerala and Thekkan kalari in the southern parts.
Kaliyattam Kaliyattam is also known as Theyyam or Thirayattam. It is a sacred and ritual dance performed to impress goddess kali. This dance form is mainly confined to the northern parts of Kerala. Only men are allowed to perform this and they wear colorful costumes and exotic ornaments during the ritual. The make up for Theyyam are done by experts.
Thullal This dance form is the most recently emerged form in Kerala. It evolved in the eighteenth centaury. Kunjan Nambiar, a famous poet of that time is the founder of this art form. Thullal combines dance along with recitation. The make up is similar to that of Kathakali but Thullal is humorous and simple Malayalam language is used for the recitation.
Thiruvathirakali Also known as kaikottikali is performed by the Hindu women during the time of onam, a festive season. It is a simple dance form with simple costumes and make ups.
Margam kali This dance form is practiced by the Syrian Christians in Kerala. It looks similar to thiruvathirakali but the steps and costumes are different. It is usually performed by a group of 12 people moving around a vilaku.
Oppana dance It is a dance of Muslims in Kerala performed at the day before wedding.
Koodiyattam This dance form is one of the earliest forms of dance in Kerala. It was a temple art and performed by chakiyars.
There are even many other classical dance forms such as mamankam, mudiyettu, kolkali and several others.