Artistic movement of cultural identity

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Artistic movement of cultural identity
Puli Kali

Kerala weaves tales of folklore and culture through performances


Farhana Chowdhury

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Published: Mon 9 Sep 2019, 9:53 AM

There's so much to say about Kerala's traditional dance scene. It is an art form that is so deeply rooted in culture that it is synonymous to a state's identity; an expression that uses the body and actions to portray a story or emphasise an emotion. "God's Own Country" is home to over 50 exhilarating expressive moves and incredible styles of costume that are performed at ceremonies and occasions. Here are few:

Theyyam: Dedicated to rituals, the vibrant dance takes place in front of shrines and represents the tales of deities and their significance. Theyyam features a number of steps that has the performer change from a simple red head-dress to flamboyant gear.

Kathakali: The classical performance dates back to 500 years. It combines dance, drama and music to weave stories of myth and folklore. It is generally performed by men, who dress up in elaborate costumes and make-up.

Kaikottikali: This elegant dance is performed on Thiruvathira, and features a group of eight to 10 women, who dance in symmetrical unison with rhythm in the backdrop. It involves graceful sways and clapping, as the dancers move in a circle to celebrate the harvest season of Onam.

Kalaripayattu: Taking the stance of warriors, this art form is a hybrid between martial arts and dance. Movements feature high jumps, kicks, strikes and even grappling. The two opponents are often armed with a shield and sword for an extra effect.

Puli Kali: The 200-year-old dance is fascinating to behold. Male dancers paint themselves in yellow, white, red and orange and wear masks to represent tigers. Taking place on the fourth day of Onam, the dancers move to the beats of traditional instruments to recreate a hunt.

Mohiniyattam: Light footsteps complemented by classical Carnatic music, vocals and mesmerising expressions, Mohiniyattam is an enhanting dance whose origins date back to 16th century CE. The dancers wear simple white and gold outfits with hair adorned in jasmine.

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