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Which Classical Dance Form Evolved from The State of Kerala

30th May, 2022

“God’s own country,” also referred to as Kerala, is one of the culturally rich states of India. Even though Kerala is well-known for sightseeing, its literacy ratio and dance is one of the integral parts of Kerala’s culture. In fact, this beautiful state has given us a myriad of dance forms that are not just popular in India but across the world, too.

Most of the dance forms that evolved in the state of Kerala are typically performed at temple festivals and on occasions. While these dance forms are quite unique, what makes them breathtaking is the wonderful expressions of the dancers. The attractive ornaments and epic costumes add to the beauty of the dance forms introduced by the state of Kerala to the entire world.

To be precise, Kerala has around 50 dance forms. Theyyam, Thiruvathirakali, Ottamthullal and Chakyar koothu koodiyattam are a few of the prominent dance forms of Kerala. And let’s not forget the popular classical dance forms – Mohiniyattam and Kathakali.

Now let’s take an in-depth look into most of the forms of classical dance of Kerala to help you understand them better.

1- Kathakali

Kathakali Dance the Indian Classical Dance of Kerala

The first dance form on our list is, of course, Kathakali. In Malayalam, Kathak literally translates to story, and Kali means to play.

This impressive form of classical dance came into existence more than 500 years ago in the state of Kerala and is generally performed by men.

Kathakali is well-known for its interesting combination of music, dance, drama and religious theme. In fact, it is considered one of the oldest forms of theatre and is popularly acknowledged across the world for its uniqueness.

2- Mohiniyattam

Mohini - Maiden and Yattam - Dance is yet another popular classical dance of Kerala that is performed by solo woman dancers and is known for its sensual and graceful moments.

It is believed that Mohiniyattam originated in the 16th century CE and was earlier performed by Devadasis. As per the mythology, it was lord Vishnu in the disguise of Mohini who enthralled people with this impressive dance form.

Along with delicate footsteps on the beats of Carnatic vocal music, Mohiniyattam dancers have mesmerising white and gold costumes. You will typically notice the dancers adorning a Jasmine garland on their heads. This is why Mohiniyattam is also referred to as the dance of enchantress.

3- Kolkali

Kolkali is performed by 24 agrarian class dancers. This highly rhythmic dance involves wooden props. The dancers beat these sticks while gracefully moving to the beats in a circular motion.

Kolkali is typically performed on a special occasion such as New Year, etc.

4- Thiruvathirakali

Thiruvathirakali is yet another popular group dance of Kerala that is taught at various classical dance classes in Kerala.

You will typically see women performing this impressive dance during the harvest festival of Kerala, also known as Onam.

This dance involves rhythmically moving in circular motions to the tune of Thiruvathira songs.

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5- Ottamthullal

The next classical dance of Kerala on our list is Ottamthullal. This dance is believed to have originated in the 18th century.

As per the old tales, it is believed that this dance form was first created by the famous Malayalam poet Kalakkaththu Kunchan Nambiar.

The notable thing about this dance form is that it is performed in a group, and each dancer wears vibrant make-up and costumes. The notion behind Ottamthullal dance is narrating stories based on mythology in a unique way.

6- Koodiyattam

We are sure you must have come across this dance form quite a few times but may haven’t known what it was named. Well, you finally know it now.

Koodiyattam is a popular dance form of Kerala that has been performed in the temples for centuries now. The dancer rhythmically moves to the tune of musical instruments like Mizhavu, Kuzhitalam, Sankhu and Kurumkuzhal.

7- Chakyar Koothu

Chakyar Koothu is known as a highly purified ancient dance form in which the dancer narrates the scenes from the Ramayana and Mahabharata.

You will typically see Chakyar koothu being performed during festivals and occasions in temples across Kerala.

8- Theyyam

Theyyam is quite popular in the Malabar region of Kerala state. In fact, the rituals of Theyyam have been practised in this region for thousands of years.

This Dravidian art form is a sacred dance ritual performed while worshipping Goddess Kali. Theyyam comes from the word “Daivam,” a Malayalam word which literally translates to God.

There you have it. These are just a few of the many classical dance forms that have evolved in the state of Kerala.

And since now you have enough knowledge about most of the popular classical dances of Kerala, we are sure you must be interested in enrolling your kid in one, too. In that case, connect with one of the leading classical dance classes that offers comprehensive online dance training.

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