THE CLASSICAL DANCE-DRAMA KATHAKALI
Kerala owes its international fame to the nearly 300-year-old
classical dance form of Kathakali, which combines facets of ballet,
opera, masque and pantomime. It is said to have evolved from
other performing arts like Kootiyattam and Ramanattam.
Kathakali tells about events and stories from the Indian Epics and
'Puranas', ancient scriptures. Presented in the temple precincts
after dusk falls, Kathakali is heralded by the Kelikottu (the
beating of drums) in accompaniment of the Chengila (gong).
The dancers adorn themselves with huge skirts and head-dress,
wearing a most intricate style of make-up. The richness of this
riveting mix of colour, expression, music, drama and dance is
unparalleled in any other art form.
The dance form requires lengthy and rigorous training to attain
complete control of the body and sensitivity to emotion so as to
be able to render all its nuances through facial expressions and
hand gestures. Themes revolve around the two great epics, the
Ramayana and the Mahabharatha.
Kathakali training lays great emphasis on complex body movements
and facial expressions. It is an exacting art form, which demands
years of rigorous training. Until the beginning of this century,
Kathakali aspirants stayed with the Guru or teacher, right from a
young age and underwent a twelve-year course.
With the advent of formal training centres, this 'Gurukula'
system has virtually disappeared. As in Kalarippayattu, massage
forms an integral part of Kathakali training. The massage aims at
acquiring body suppleness.
Students of Kathakali have to undergo rigorous training replete
with oil massages and separate exercises for the eyes, lips,
cheeks and the neck. 'Abhinaya' (expression) is of as prime
importance as 'nritya' or dance and 'geetham' or song.
Complementing highly evocative facial expressions, the 'mudras',
and the music- both vocal and instrumental, Kathakali unfolds
stories from a bygone era with finesse reminiscent of the Greek
plays. The accompanying instruments of the orchestra consists in
two drums- the 'Maddalam' and 'Chenda', the 'Chengila', which is a
bell metal gong and the 'Ilathalam' or cymbals.
MOHINIYATTAM (THE ENCHANTRESS DANCE)
This typical dance of kerala is the feminine counterpart of
Kathakali. the dance uses very soft and graceful movements and
its technique is essentially feminine.
Great amusement and entertainment is provided by this classical
art form which is a social satire. There are three forms of Thullal
: Ottanthullal, Parayanthullal and Sheetanganthullal.
In northern Malabar region this dance ritual was originally held to
please the folk deities, spirits and ancestors. Performed by men
wearing masks, body paint, colourful costumes and mudi
(headgear). at the beginning of every performance there is
thottam (song) in praise of the deity. Influenced by kalaripayattu,
the martial art of kerala, the dance steps are accompigned by the
rhythm of beats of drums and cymbal. Usually held between
December and May. a daily performance is to see at
parassinikadavu temple, 20 km north of kannur.
the oldest known system of martial training in the world comes
from kerala. the origin of kalaripayattu can be traced back to the
12th century AD. kalaripayattu means training of combat in the
gymnasium. training takes place at the kalari, the temple of
learning. the gurukkal teaches the combat training: figorous
physical training as well as training in self-discipline. different
weapons are used: sword, shield, dagger, spear and kuruvadis. this
training aims at the complete co-ordination of mind and body.
the traditional training includes specialised and indigenous medical
preparations and methods of treatments which were developed
for kalari-related injuries like fractures, bruises, fractures etc.
there is also the full body oil-massage (uzhichil) used to attain
supplessness of the body. a specially prepared medicated oil is
used for uzhichil.
kalaripayattu has contributed to the traditional art and dance
forms of kerala, like kathakali, kooddyattam etc. kathakali has
drawn elements from kalaripayattu in its physical training and
body massage for the trainee.
- means union. while practising yoga we try to balance male and
female, sun and moon; from this balance comes harmony and from
harmony the union within us.
to be effectfull, yoga has to be practiced on a daily base, following
the 5 principles
exercise is based on a non-violent system of movement that
increases circulation of fluids in our bodies. movements and
structure of the body must be kept in good order by exercising
muscles and joints, keeping tissues healthy and pliable.
relaxing by laying down, regulating one's breath, concentrating on
the various parts of the body and giving them mental suggestions
to relax. excellent to reduce lood pressure and lessen nervous
breathing to supply the body with the maximum of oxygen for the
health of cells and discharge the waste product carbon dioxide.
balance of the left and right hemispheres of the brain, leading to
increased concentration and energy.
diet, to be of benefit must be simple and should be based on a
grain - bean combination, giving digestible protein. various
vegetables, nuts and seeds as well as fruits should be eaten
experience deep inner peace and silence is the essence of yoga,
without which all the above points will not bear full fruit.
the most important thin in yoga is not flexibility and the capacity
of doing difficult postures, but awareness of body, breath, our
movements, practising with total attention within us. from this
awareness comes control, grace and beauty.
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ART FORMS AND DANCES OF KERALA