Kathakali is a form of dance drama. Elements of music, dance, painting, poetry and drama blend in a unique way to make this art form stand out amongst other classical dance forms that has evolved in India.
Kathakali evolved from classical dance forms such as Koodiyattam and Raamanattom. During its evolution, Kathakali imbibed elements from the folk art forms that existed in Kerala. The many aspects of traditional rituals and ceremonies that Kathakali picked up on its evolutionary course from various folk arts, has since then become its integral part.
This unique art form thus makes appreciation of art easy and fulfilling for both the novices and connoisseurs alike.
The classical elements of this art form comprise
Nritha (the element of dance with emphasis on rhythm) and
Nrithya (the element of dance with emphasis on expressions of emotions).
Geetha (song, vocal) and
Vadya (comprising instruments) supplement these elements to perfection to yield a complete theatrical art form.
Kathakali is better appreciated and understood with an understanding of
Mudras- gestures of hands.
The actors in a sense, translates background music into dance and drama that can be easily understood. A story is frame-worked within an intricate array of lyrics and poems.
Kathakali is unique in that it has the most colorful and elaborate costumes in use in a dance form. In this respect, Kathakali shares some interesting aspects with the ritualistic dance form Kabuki, of Japan.
The stories that are enacted in Kathakali are mostly adapted from the great epics of Ramayana and Mahabharatha. The stories most popularly staged are ones that were written by accomplished poets. The lyrics, by themselves form beautiful literature. They are tuned to suit the sense and style of Kathakali..
Recently there has been a spurt of activity to adopt stories from other cultures and the most popular among these are the successful attempts, which have been made with Shakespearean plays. Thus, these days, it is not uncommon to see a stage based on themes adapted from ‘King Lear’ and ‘Julius Caesar’. There has also been successful attempts to integrate various elements of Kathakali into theaters spanning across the border.