DANCES OF INDIA – KATHAKALI DANCE
Kathakali Dance is a highly stylized classical Indian dance noted for the attractive make-up of characters, elaborate costumes, detailed gestures and well-defined body movements presented in tune with the anchor playback music and complementary percussion. It originated in the country’s present day state of Kerala during the Seventeenth century and has developed over the years with improved looks, refined gestures and added themes besides more ornate singing and precise drumming.
A Kathakali actor uses immense concentration, on their skill and physical stamina, gained from regimented training based on Kalaripayattu, the ancient martial art of Kerala, to prepare for his demanding role. The training can often last for 10 years, and is intensive. In Kathakali, the story is enacted purely by the movements of the hands (called mudras) and by facial expressions (rasas) and bodily movements. The expressions are derived from Natyashastra and are classified into nine as in most Indian classical art forms. Dancers also undergo special practice sessions to learn control of their eye movements also.
Manipravalam is the language of the songs used for Kathakali Dance. Though most of the songs are set in ragas based on the microtone-heavy Carnatic music, there is a distinct style of plain-note rendition, which is known as the Sopanam style. This typically Kerala style of rendition takes its roots from the temple songs which used to be sung at the time when Kathakali was born.