This powerful dance drama, performed in the Temples at night, is a traditional and typical dance form of Kerala. In a sacred atmosphere in front of the Holy Lamp, the actors express themselves through hand gestures, body movements, facial expressions and steps, accompanied by vocal and instrumental music. Every night they recreate the stories of the Indian mythology. This complete art form can appeal to many people as acting, dance, pantomime, music, percussions and of course dresses and ornaments are equally attractive and contribute to touch all our senses.
A distinct style for the distinct purpose of the dance drama. The moods in a song determine the mode of the melody. Every couplet of the song is repeated until the actor has transcribed it into gestures. Kathakali music has got a distinct style called the Sopana style.
Kathakali Mudras (Hand gestures)
These are the gestures used by the the actors in Kathakali. Gestures of the hands play an important part in the expression of thoughts and emotions right from the time of 'Vedas". Priests repeat "Manthras" using certain gestures with their hands and these movements became a sacred ritual. Mudras enable a complete language of gestures which enable the actors not only to interpret the lines of the story but also to communicate with each other on matters relevant to the occasion. You can learn this separately if you have no time or no desire to study the steps of the dance.
Chutti (Kathakali Make-up)
Facial colours represent different mental states and emotions. They help to beautify the gestures. Each type of character has its characteristic make-up. The “Chutti” is made of several layers of white paper glued on the face of the actor. You can get a special interest in the visual aspect of Kathakali and wish to study the various types of make-up or even how to make a “Chutti”.