Dances of Kerala

Dances of Kerala include Kathakali, Mohiniattam and Thullal. Besides these, Theyyam, Koothu, Krishnanattom and Koottiyattam are also practiced in Kerala. The traditional dance forms mainly draw inspiration from the ancient texts and epics. Hence the subjects of these performances are episodes from various legends and myths of India.

Kathakali Dance
Kathakali is one of the most well known dance forms in Kerala. It would be more appropriate to term Kathakali as dance-drama. This form of art involves flamboyance and lot of toil. This form of dance involves a unique combination ballet, pantomime, opera and masque. Kathakali dancers dance with elaborately painted faces and embellished headgears. Great significance is laid upon the make-up or ‘Vesham’ which are essentially of five different types like Pacha, Kathi, Thadi, Kari and Minukka.

Mohiniyattam Dance
Mohiniattam is believed to be the dance of enchantress. Superficially Mohiniattam resembles the Tamil classical dance, Bharatnatyam, but it is less complex in its mime, and, in comparison, rustically vigorous and angular. It is a very ancient dance, originally practised by women of the Nambiar caste and associated with the temples; outside the sanctuary of the 12th-century temple at Trivikramangalam there are relief carvings of sacred dancers who are found to be performing an early type of Mohiniattam. This type of dance consists of some of the characteristics of Kuchipudi, Odissi and Bharatnatyam. Mohiniyattam dance is said to explain the story of a mythological character named Mohini and the dance steps are quite graceful. The songs sung while performing this dance is generally in Malayalam and Carnatic.

Thiruvathirakali Dance
Thiruvathirakali is performed by the womenfolk belonging to Hindu community. This is a beautiful group dance of Kerala and is done during festivals like the ‘Thiruvathira’ day as well as Onam. Dancers follow a circular form of movement while doing this dance and clap their dance.To know more read:


Orissa Dance Academy

Orissa Dance Academy organises persistent training classes both for Indian and foreign students to project and popularise Odissi Dance in the country and also abroad. A leading institution in Bhubaneswar, Orissa Dance Academy was founded in 1975 and strictly aims to foster Orissan art and cultural heritage through proper and rigorous training.

Orissa Dance Academy offers ample opportunities for the Odissi dancers to perform on stage. The academy has two sections, one for teaching and other for training. Guru Gangadhar Pradhan, the eminent Odissi Dance exponent and Sj. Dhirendra Nath Patnaik, the eminent scholar founded this institution. Guru Gangadhar Pradhan, who is one of the foremost exponents of Odissi Dance, at the tender age of six, received his training as Gotipua Dancer. After finishing his Natya Acharya in Odissi from Utkal Sangeet Mahavidyalaya under proficient guidance of Guru Pankaj Charan Das, Dr. Minati Mishra and Guru Deb Prasad Das; he also received rigorous training from Guru Kelu Charan Mohapatra. Apart from mastering the delicate nuances and the subtleties of Odissi dancing, he is also a maestro of Mardala player. He is also a recipient of the State Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1993, the Central Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1998 and the prestigious Padmashree award from President of India in 2008.

This academy has made major contributions in projecting and popularising Odissi dance and music, as well as offering intensive training to artistes residing both in India and abroad. It maintains a close association with several cultural institutions in India and other foreign countries. Upholding a rich cultural heritage, the Orissa Dance Academy has moved ahead with its dignified and dynamic mission to hold many artistes into its cultural realm. Through its comprehensive activities, the Orissa Dance Academy aims at international cultural peace and accord.

The technique of learning adopted at Orissa Dance Academy is completely different from the usual method followed in most traditional dancing institutes in India. Based on the Gurukul Parampara of medieval India, the pupils in Orissa Dance Academy learn the art through perseverance, devotion, willpower and deep admiration for the teachers. Knowledge is thought to be a legacy that is handed over from generation to generation as priceless heirloom. The average training span is of ten years, with the program including both theoretical and practical on the technique of Odissi Dance. To know more read:


Indian Kathakali Dancers

Indian Kathakali dancers are the talented artists who have made Kathakali, a popular art in all across the globe. Kathakali is probably the oldest theatre forms in the world. It was originated in the state of Kerala and the Kathakali dancers perform a group presentation, in which they act upon various roles which are traditionally based on the themes from sacred Hindu mythology, especially the two epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.

The Indian Kathakali dancers are experts in expressing the highly developed language of gesture, through which the artists usually convey the whole sentences and stories. The body movements and foot works of these dancers are very rigorous. However, the elaborate make up aids the dancers to a great extent in expressing their story. Apart from the facial make up, each Kathakali dancer wears a detailed costume, with a headdress and several layers of skirts, as well as heavy jewellery, anklets, bracelets and rings.

Popular Kathakali Dancers
Kathakali dancers in India are usually only men. Men dressed in women’s costume portray female characters. However, in recent years, women have also started to become Kathakali dancers. Following are the Popular Kathakali Dancers:

Kalamandalam Gopi: Gopi has been honoured with the esteemed Sangeet Natak Akademi Award. One of the most respected Kathakali dancers of the India is Kalamandalam Gopi, a student of the famous gurus like Padmanabhan Nair, Ramankutty Nair and Kumaran Nair. He had a celebrated career spanning over three decades, during which he has stood out in all main roles of Northern Kathakali style.

Kalamandalam Krishna Prasad: He excels in depicting both male as well as female characters. Kalamandalam Krishna Prasad is another famous Kathakali dancer. He was awarded with the M.A Vellody Medal at Kalamandalam for being the top student, in adding to receiving a number of other honours and awards.

Kottakkal Sivaraman: Kottakkal Sivaraman’s description was perfect. He captured the different emotions of Pingala as he travels from the depths of distresses to the heights of religious happiness. He displayed the emotions of a combination of nayika bhavas, like vasakasajjika and lasya nayika.

Kalamandalam Kesavan Namboodiri: Kalamandalam Kesavan Namboodiri has presented Kathakali Dance in a lot of stages all around India and overseas. His capability is in “Minukku” characters, but now performing “Pacha”, “Kathi”, “Thadi” characters also. He has also directed the Kathakali Sreekrishnaavatharam which is written by Nalloorpalli Vamanan Namboodiri and performed in lots of stages. Now he is working on “Kirathasoonucharitham” Kathakali. To know more read:

Costumes of Indian Dances

Costumes of Indian Dances

Costumes of Indian dances project the chosen attires for the traditional dances and the folk dances.

Costumes in Bharatnatyam Dances are gorgeous. The costume consists of a dhoti for both male and female dancers. It is usually of richly embroidered needlework or shimmering silk or satin. Armlets, wristlets or bangles, earrings and necklaces serve to enhance the dancer appearance. Women wear a veni or semi circle of real or artificial flowers round the bun or plait of the hair. In the centre of the forehead a tika or dot is impressed. The most typical items of jewellery are the thalaisaman (headpiece), with the rakodi, worn just above the flowers in the hair, and the Chandrasuryan (moon and sun) on either side, as the head symbolizes the heaven. The ear ornaments consist of three pieces, the maatal (chain), jhimki (hanging earring) and the thodu, which fits on to the lobe.


Costume of Kathakali is unique to the core and brings out the delectable epiphany of colourful vibgiors. Costumes of Kathakali preserve its masculine aspect in its elemental vigour. Strong Malayan and Tibetan influences are discerned in the embellishments of the actors. Kathakali Dance forms are noted for its ancient costumes, grand headgears. The costumes used are heavy, intricate, elaborate and colourful. They transform the actor mentally and physically to portray a particular character. The costumes vary with the characters. For instance, the Satvika characters or the hero don different attires as compared to the evil characters. Besides, these characters, such as, Brahmin, righteous women, sages, don the Minukku make up. Tadi is an important part of the makeup and costumes used in Kathakali. The costume is used by the performers that make them look like super humans. Mask like designs are painted on the faces of the actors. Different types of white line are used to denote the nature of characters. With such vibrant costumes, it is a visual treat to watch the Kathakali dancers perform on stage. The beautiful costumes of the Kathakali dancers are the essence of the entire performance.

Dalkhai is the most popular folk-dance of Orissa, performed on occasions like Phangun Puni, Bhaijiuntia, Nuakhai and so on. The women usually dress themselves with the colourful Sambalpuri Sarees and wear a scarf on the shoulders holding the ends below in both the hands. Adorned with traditional ornaments and flowers their full-bodied frames sustain the lively steps for long hours. To know more read: