Kathakali dance is a traditional dance form of Kerala. In Kerala, the Kathakalli dance form is often known as the King of theater performances. The long hours of make-up, the elaborate and colorful make up, the heavily adorned costumes, all contribute towards making this dance form certainly larger than life. This traditional Kathakali dance form is a very aggressive dance, with no delicate and subtle movements. The actions are powerful and require high amounts of energy to perform. This is also one reason why males play the characters of females as well. It is said that this dance form has evolved over a period of 300 years.
The Kathakali dance basically means story telling. The scenes that are
enacted are emoted with much vigor and vitality to bring life to the
myths and legends. This dance form highlights complex body movements and
facial expressions. The characters they enact seem so real, that at some
point during the performance you will feel as though they have swapped
their real identities with the characters. Since these complex and
intricate body movements require suppleness of muscles, the Kathakali
performers have to undergo special massage for their arms, necks and
faces. Since the music does not have lyrics, the dance is performed on
drum beats and other instruments.
The make-up is very fine and minute details are taken care of. The
make-up of a single character can takes hours together. The costumes
comprise of heavy multi layered skirt, heavy ornaments and an elaborate
headgear. The make up is done according to 5 main types of characters.
Each color has its own importance and highlights the significance of the
character and the dominant role of that character. The 5 main types of
make up are: