October 27, 2010

India Feature Series : Kathakali - A traditional Indian dance form

Make up in all different forms!!  

Kathakali is one of the ancient classical dance forms of India. It originates from the South Indian state, Kerala. Kathakali finds its origins in Ramananattam and Krishnanattam of the 16th and 17th centuries. These dance forms were theatrical productions that depicted stories from the Ramayana and Mahabharata. The word Kathakali literally means, story-play, and uses a combination of literature, music, painting, acting, and dance in its theatrical productions. The dance form was really established in the 17th and 18th century Travancore palaces.

The art form combines Nritta (pure dance), Nritya (use of hand gestures), and Natya (acting). There are 24 basic hand gestures or mudras in Kathakali. With the combination of hand gestures, body movements, and expressions, performers communicate with over 600-700 intricate gestures. Performers are also taught to communicate with their eyes and various facial muscles, skills that can take years to perfect.

There are 101 Kathakali plays currently in existence.

Photo courtesy : Kathakali mosaic - Rahul Sadagopan

The dance performer in the picture is Sadanam Harikumaran.He is an established performer, playwright and choreographer of kathakali dance and the principal of Gandhi Seva Sadan.

Its interesting that each color used here is naturally made from minerals and the white mask is a rice  paste mask! Talk about sustainability at its best !!
More videos to come  in this series for the facial expressions and the eye expressions!

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