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(Malayalam, literally “the telling of a story”), a traditional kind of performance in the popular theater of South India, including dance, pantomime, vocal and instrumental music, and elements of circus acrobatics. The origins of Kathakali date from early antiquity, although the final form was established in the 17th century.

The basic theatrical principle of Kathakali is differentiation of the visual and the musical aspects of the show. The actor does a dance and a pantomime, and the dialogues and monologues of the characters are performed by the singers and chorus, accompanied by an orchestra. The canonical positions of the dancer’s fingers and hands, which are used to convey feelings and concepts, are the basis of the actor’s means of expression (the Mudra and Hasta). Subjects for Kathakali plays are drawn from the epic poems Mahabharata and Ramayana and various legends and narratives. The first plays for Kathakali are attributed to the poet Thampuranom and the maharajah T. K. Turunal, and since the first half of the 19th century, works by S. Tirunal and I. Thampa have also been used. Kathakali performances are given under the open sky on a low platform. The costumes and makeup are strictly fixed and symbolic. The characters are divided into three groups: Satvik, the noble heroes, gods, and kings; Rajasik, those representing various vices; and Tamasik, demons and spirits personifying the forces of evil.

By the early 20th century, the art of Kathakali had fallen into decline. In 1930 the Indian poet and public figure Vallathol founded the Kerala Mandalam School, initiating the revival of Kathakali. In independent India, Kathakali has become part of the national culture of the Indian people. Among the Kathakali actors are Kunju Kurup, Chandu Panikkar, Gopi Nath, G. Panikkar, and Krishnan Kutty.


References in periodicals archive ?
Kathakali is a stylised classical Indian dance drama noted for the attractive makeup of characters, elaborate costumes, detailed gestures and well-defined body movements presented in tune with anchor playback music and complementary percussion.
His jugalbandis with Hindustani vocalist Ramesh Narayan and late Kathakali musicians Kalamandalam Sankaran Embranthiri and Kalamandalam Hyderali have been widely appreciated.
Put it this way: an application to investigate the origins of Kathakali dance-drama--and its interesting journey from Kerala to Smethwick--might more easily attract funding than a Scottish cathedral that needs repairing.
A few days later, experience the surreal beauty of the Kerala backwaters and watch a mesmerising Kathakali performance before leaving for the unblemished sands of Maldives.
Yet in Western theatre history and scholarship, oAsian theatreo often means traditional forms: no, kabuki, Beijing Opera, kathakali or the shadow puppets of Southeast Asia.
The logo is nice: Kathakali and Peking Opera masks merged together, making it rather colourful and symbolic.
Chengannur Raman Pillai was a great Kathakali artiste.
Last but not least, French storyteller Nathalie Leboucher promises to surprise the little ones not only with her skills as a narrator, but also as a practitioner of Kathakali, an Indian dance style.
The Kerala Kathakali centre offers short and long-term courses, suited to your needs, in private or group sessions.
There wasn't space to go on in detail about performances from Phizzical, Junco Partners, Reform Theatre, The Mighty Doonans, iMagician, Scott & Shackleton, David Nobbs, Theatre Hullabaloo, Aly Bain, Kathakali, Pinter, Djangologie and Andrew Motion.
At the Kerela Kathakali Centre, you can watch the elaborate make–up session from 5pm as the actors are transformed into demons and gods before the show starts at six.