PERFORMANCE ART OF KERALA

ART PERFORMANCE

KAKKARISSI KALI : Prevalent among the Kuravas of Thiruvananthapuram district, this group dance is very vociferous because of the shoutings of the participants and also the wild beating of primitive drums like para, veekkan, chanda etc.

DAPPU KALI : A group - dance of the Maplahs of Malabar. The performers form two rows of ten to twenty. They beat on the dappu which each dancer holds in his left hand and dance with exquisitely symmetrical swayings of the body and timing of dappu.

KOLKKALI : A mixed dance in which both men and women participate. The performers move in a circle, striking small sticks and keeping rhythm with special steps. The circle expands and contracts as the dance progress. The accompanying music gradually rises in pitch and the dance reaches its climax .Sometimes it is performed on a specially constructed wooden stage .Thus the name thattinmelkali.

MOPLAH KALI : This is very similar to kolkali and is the powerful folk-dance of the Muslims of the Malabar. Melodious Moplah songs are sung as the dances are performed. Small bells are attached to the ends of the sticks which the dancers hold in their hands.

VATTAKKALI : An extremely vigorous ring - dance of the Vattuvar community. Both men and women participate in the dance. Twelve different types of 'steps' are executed. The beauty of the intricate footwork is heightened by the tinkling of anklets and bells and also by the rhythmic clapping of hand. The whirling movements become faster as the dancing reaches a climax. The dance is also called chuvadukali or chavittukali.

POYKKALU KALI : Also known as marakkalattom, this is a still-dance performed in connection with temple festivals. Theme songs are sung in which the fight of the goddess Durga on stilts against the Asuras who attacked her in the guise of snakes, scorpions etc., are portrayed. The rhythm is kept by percussion instruments.

POORAKKALI : A folk dance prevalent among the Thiyyas of Malabarm, usually performed in Bhagavathy temples as a ritual offering during the month of Meenam (March - April ). Poorakkali requires specially trained and highly experienced dancers quite thorough with all the techniques and feat of Kalaripayattu, a system of physical exercise formerly vogue in Kerala. Standing round the traditional lamp, the performers dance in eighteen different stages and rhythm, each phase being called a Niram.

PAANA : This is ritual dance propitiating the goddess Kali. Small temporary shrines are constructed and variously decorated. A branch of the Pala tree is taken round the temple by about 10 to 12 person who dance all the way to the rhythm set by percussion instruments and to the vociferous shouting and chanting of the accompanying crowd. This part of the dance is called Pala Piditham. The branch is then installed in the centre of the shrine as the deity and Pooja is performed by the village leader. The pooja consist of offerings to the accompaniment of dancing round the deity. Then a person dances round the deity with burning torches. This is followed by ten to twelve persons again dancing round the deity with burning torches. This is followed by ten to twelve persons again dancing round with canes in their hands. After this, songs are sung glorifying the victory of Kali over Darika. The last part of the dance is velichapad thullal.

KOTHAMOORI : This is a dance prevalent among the Malavans of North Kerala. Models of oxen are made up with leaves and twigs, and carried on shoulders behind which numerous dancers with crude facial marks and skirts made of tender fronds of coconut, dance in exotic jubilance to the accompaniment of instruments like chenda and kinni (a bronze plate).

KURAVAR KALI : Kuravar belongs to the former untouchable class of people who were not permitted to enter the precincts of temples. The Kuravarkali dance is usually performed outside the temple walls in connection with festivals. The costumes of the dancers are peculiar with conical caps called pala thopi, white dhothi and red sash. Sandal paste is smeared all over the body and face and garlands of red chethi flowers are worn. The dancers have anklets tied to the legs. The Kuravars circle round a traditional lamp and dance to the timing and rhythm set by percussion instruments like veekkan chenda.

SARPAM THULLAL : Many ancient family houses in kerala have special snake shrines called Kavu. Sarpamthullal is usually performed in the courtyard of houses having snake shrines. This is a votive offering for family wealth and happiness. The dance is performed by members of a community called Pulluvar. In the first stage the Pulluvan draws a Kolam (picture) of two or more twining snakes in the courtyard. An oil - lit traditional lamp and one full measure (nirapara) each of paddy and rice are then placed in front of the kolam. In the second stage, the idol of the snake is brought out from the Kavu in a procession called thalapoli to the uproarious tumult of percussion instrument (panchavadya). A number of girls with their hair dressed up like the hoods of snakes and reminiscent of the legend of the naga kanyakas partake in this procession. The idol is placed in the kolam and the poojari performs ritual offerings while the girls sit in two rows on the side of the kolam. The poojari then dances round the kolam to the rhythmic beating of para and elathalam. All the while a pulluvan and pulluvathi will be singing special devotional songs set to tune and rhythem by nanduni (a primitive type of veena) and kudam ( a primitive form of modern khatam) respectively. As the song gathers momentum the girls go into a trance and began to dance, swaying their body slowly at first and steadily ascending in tempo. The dance finally erupts in a violent frenzy of rhythmic fervour.

VELICHAPPAADU THULLAL : This is a ritual dance common with bhadrakalipattu, ayyappanapattu and veitaykorumakapattu. Since it seals with trances and evil spirits,only a few are allowed to perform it. Usually the members of the kallathukuruppanmar enjoy this right.In the first stageof the dance there is kalamezhuthu,in which the form of the deity is drawn on the floor with the aid of five types of coloured powders.Then devotional songs are sung to the accompaniment of nanthuni,a musical instrument.After this the dancer known as velichappadu enters,with red flowery clothes,red scarfs,a gridle of bells at the waist and a sword in hand slowly he gets into a trance and executes vigorous movements which is technically called idumkoorum chavittal.

AYYAPPAN VILAKKU : Numerous miniature temples are constructed out of tender co-count frond and plantain leaf-stalks.Then songs are sung on the leg-endary right between ayyappan and Vavar.In tune with the various rhymes and rhythms of this devotional song,two dancers in the costume and make up of Ayyappan and Vavar perform, striking with swords and defending with coconut fronds.The dancers exicutevigorous foot-movement.In the last stage,a huge fire called aazhiis lit and the dancers jump into the birning embers still dancing.

PARICHAMUTTU KALI : This is martial folk-dance which had its origin during the days when kalaripayattu,the famous physical exercises of swordplay and defence,wasin vogue in kerala.the performers dance with sword and shield on their hands,following the movements of sword fight leaping forward, stepping back and moving round,all the time striming with the swords and degending with shields.Mateisl songs are sung throughout and the cymbals chime in perfect unions with the steps and the striking og swords against the shields.In the Malabar area theis dance is performed by Thiyyas and in the Travancore area by Christians.

PULAYAR KALI : The Pulayas belong to the former class of untouchables and were mainly agricultural labourers. Pulayar kali is their gay group dance, noted for its rhythm, vigour and beauty. Women also participate in this dance which is usually performed after the harvest season. The songs are all based on themes relating to incidents in mythologies like Mahabharatha and Ramayana, instruments like para, veekan chenda kavu etc., are used.

KAALAYUM KUDAYUM : A dance of the pulayar community. This is performed after the harvest. Models of oxen and horses are made out of bamboo and forest twigs and decorated with white clothes. Umbrellas of five to seven storeys are also similarly constructed and decorated with tender coconut fronds, flowers etc. These are taken round from house to house. The bearers execute a very simple dance, moving the legs to the left and right, front and back.

KAAVADIYATTOM : Mainly performed as a votive offering in temples where the presiding deity is lord Subrahmania. Here a number of dancers dressed in yellow or rose clothes and smeared all over the body with ashes and each with an ornate kavadi on the shoulder, dance in a row to the rhythmic beatings of instruments like udukku, chenda etc. Sometimes nagaswaram is also used.

BHADRAKALI THULLAL : This is a devotional offering of pulayas for the deity Bhadrakali. Special pandals are constructed in the fields after the harvest and the dances are performed. They are quite drawn - out and have numerous phases. Different types of make - up and costumes are used for each phase and the participants dance to the acompainment of devotional songs and percussion instruments.

VELA KALI : A marital dance of the Nair community. This depicts ancient warfare in Kerala in all its ferocity and valour. Armed with shining swords and shields in exotic costumes they dance with vigour and force. The dance ends with the victory of good over evil.

PURATTU : The word Purathu means limitation or mimicy. It is a humorour folk-play which many characters like Chettiar, Chettichi, Kuravan and Kurathi are cleverly imitated to evoke laughter. The accompanying songs are almost Tamil. The purattu performed by Ezhavas or Pulayas.




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