Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Kathakali Dancers of Kumarakom

One of the coolest moments of the trip was when we got to see the dressing room of the Kathakali dancers. I have studied Indian classical dance, but this was my first exposure to Kathakali in particular. It's unique in many ways; its much more colourful, theatrical & larger than life as compared to a Bharatnatyam; even the music makes louder & more dramatic use of percussion; the focus being on story-telling as much as the raw art of dance itself (I think modern day Bollywood may perhaps be the closest cousin if it could qualify as classical).

And while I don't think the performers we saw were the best in the business -- they were tourist sell-outs actually rather than enthusiasts of the art -- but the experience of watching them put on their "show face" was a treat by itself. The painting of the face & wearing of the elaborate costume is a long laborious process & is symbolic of various themes (the male hero is green-faced; the villians are red-faced; and so on). It was shocking to see how much the whole costume actually weighs; it must take a strong man to dance with that skirt & head-gear.

I would love to watch a more "real" Kathakali performance someday!


666 said...

Where did u guys stay in Kumarakom? We had stayed at the Taj. There is another martial art form called kalari native to Kerala, thats also worth seeing.

Radha said...

We stayed at The Whispering Palms...although we did go to the Taj Vivanta for lunch one afternoon.

Jas B said...

I was always fascinated by Kathakali dance and dancers!