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Kerala,Keralachat,Malayalam,Malayalam Music,Keralam,India,KeralaVoiceChat,Kerala Map
Kerala,Keralachat,Malayalam,Malayalam Music,Keralam,India,KeralaVoiceChat,Kerala Map
Kerala,Keralachat,Malayalam,Malayalam Music,Keralam,India,KeralaVoiceChat,Kerala Map
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Koodiyattam

The only extant classical Sanskrit theatre in India is Koodiyattam. This one thousand year-old theatre is the traditional privilege of Chakyars and Nambiars (temple-castes of Kerala). Chakyars enact the male roles and the Nangiars (women of Nambiar) take female roles. The actors and actresses render verbal acting in stylised Sanskrit and Prakrit (a colloquial form of Sanskrit) respectively.

The make-up and dressing is less exuberant and more stylised. Mizhavu and Edakka provide the background music to Koodiyattam. Through sound modulation, the percussion instruments augment the effect of acting in this dance drama.Vidooshaka (Royal clown) in Koodiyattam tells the audience in the local language, Malayalam, with running humour, the thematic development of the text.

All the main characters in Koodiyattam customarily enact Nirvahana; a recollection of past events in the story, to form a background for stepping into the present. This is always a long drawn out affair and may take anywhere from a few days to a number of weeks.

Mohiniyattam

Mohiniyattam, the female semi-classical dance form of Kerala is said to be older than Kathakali. Literally, the dance of the enchantress, Mohiniyattam was mainly performed in the temple precincts of Kerala. It is also the heir to Devadasi dance heritage like Bharata Natyam, Kuchipudi and Odissi. The word 'Mohini' means a maiden who exerts desire or steals the heart of the onlooker. There is a well known story of Lord Vishnu taking on the guise of a 'Mohini' to enthrall people, both in connection with the churning of the milk ocean and with the episode of slaying of Bhasmasura. Thus it is thought that Vaishnava devotees gave the name of Mohiniyattam to this dance form.

The first reference to Mohiniyattam is found in 'Vyavaharamala' composed by Mazhamangalam Narayanan Namboodiri, assigned to the 16th century AD. In the 19th century, Swati Thirunal, the king of erstwhile Travancore, did much to encourage and stabilise this art form. The post Swati period however witnessed the downfall of this art form. It somehow degenerated into eroticism to satisfy the Epicurean life of some provincial Satraps and landlords. It was Poet Vallathol who again revived it and gave it a status in modern times through Kerala Kalamandalam, which he founded in 1930. Kalamandalam Kalyaniamma, the first dance teacher of Kalamandalam was instrumental in resuscitating this ancient art form. Along with her, Krishna Panicker, Madhavi Amma and Chinnammu Amma, the last links of a disappearing tradition, nurtured aspirants in the discipline at Kalamandalam.

The theme of Mohiniyattam is love and devotion to god. Vishnu or Krishna is more often the hero. The spectators could feel his invisible presence when the heroine or her maid details dreams and ambitions through the circular movements, delicate footsteps and subtle expressions. The dancer in the slow and medium tempos is able to find adequate space for improvisations and suggestive bhavas. In format, this is similar to Bharatanatyam. The movements are graceful like Odissi and the costumes sober and attractive. It is essentially a solo dance, but in present times it is performed in groups also. The repertoire of Mohiniyattam follows closely that of Bharatanatyam. Beginning with Cholkettu, the dancer performs Jathiswaram, Varnam, Padam and Thillana in a concert. Varnam combines pure and expressional dance, while Padam tests the histrionic talent of a dancer and Thillana exposes her technical artistry.

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