classical dance of Kerala


Dance Form In Kerala Cover Pictures source By Google Image

Kerala has always been a popular destination for tourists and travelers. Yet, as you journey deeper into the state, it opens up. It offers a rich tapestry of art, music, and equally dance to those who seek it. And it is not wrong to say, Kerala a sanctum of Art. The cultural heritage and equally religious influence have been the main source of birth to many art forms in this land. Known as “God’s own country.

Kerala has around 50 forms of dance. Among these Theyyam, Puli kali, Nangiar Koothu, Koodiyattam, and Ottan Thullal are some of the prominent another dance forms. Kerala is also famous all over the world for these two unique dance forms of Kathakali and Mohiniyattam.

Many of these art forms draw from stories of the epics, ancient folklore, and even more tales from everyday life. And these include exquisite forms with mudras (Finger and palm movements) and also vivid expressions.

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Makeup Is An Important Art

Make-up is an integral part of a number of different Kerala dance forms, be it Kathakali, Theyyam or Ottan Thullal, so much so that it’s taught as a separate discipline at the Kerala Kalamandalam. The make-up process is elaborate also, the colours, usually natural, are extracted from flowers, leaves, stones and soot, and prepared with a coconut oil base. The predominant colour of green, used to depict good, as well as white is for spirituality, red for passion and black for evil.

Kathakali Dance form Kerala
Kathakali (Google Image)


A classical art form, it has its origins almost 1,500 years ago in the southern state of Kerala. Kathakali is a perfect combination of dance, drama, music, and religious theme. Kathakali is one of the oldest styles of world theatre. In Malayalam (the local language of Kerala), Kathakali means Story-Play, “Katha-Story” and “Kali-Play”. Usually, men are performing this dance.

Mohiniyattam dance form Kerala
Mohiniyattam (Google Image)


A famous and elegant classical dance form of Kerala called Mohiniyattam involves graceful movements. Mohiniyattam is a blend of Bharatanatyam and also Kathakali, as it uses the elements of these dances. This dance is very elegant as it has gentle and graceful movements even though along with mesmerizing eye movements. Only solo women perform this classical dance. As the name itself says, Mohini means ‘a maiden’ and Yattam means ‘dance’.

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Theyyam Dance form Kerala
Theyyam (Google Image)


The most interesting fact of Kerala’s art form is that the majority of these have evolved from temple rituals involving the mythological stories of gods and goddesses. Theyyam, one of these types of rituals of North Kerala which said to have 400 variations. Mudras and the facial expressions of the performer enthrall the audience throughout the performance.

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Koodiyattam dance form Kerala
Koodiyattam (Google Image)


A traditional performing art form, Koodiyattam is a combination of ancient Sanskrit theatre and Koothu, a Tamil performing art dating from the Sangam era, the period of the history of ancient Tamil Nadu, and Kerala. Koodiyattam is a famous temple dance art form.

Ottan Thullal dance form Kerala
Ottan Thullal (Google Image)

Ottan Thulla

One of the other lesser-known dance forms of Kerala. Whilst in make-up, dress, and movements, it resembles Kathakali, borrowing from the famous dance that was once meant for the upper echelons of society. This ancient art form used to be presented to criticize the kings and leaders of society in a humorous way. This solo performer wears green make-up and elaborates costumes and entertains the audience with hand movements, expressions, and also jumping to evoke laughter from the audience. Ottan thullal needs as well as attention to be preserved as a valuable art form of Kerala as it’s slowly losing its value and existence in the modern era.

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Nangiar Koothu (Google Image)

Nangiar Koothu

Nangyar Koothu or Nangiar koothu is an allied traditional art of Kutiyattam, an age-old Sanskrit drama tradition of India. This dance form, Sree Krishna Charitham, presented by a female performer in the temples. Mudras and the facial expressions of the performer enthrall the audience throughout the performance.

Puli kali dance form Kerala
Puli kali (Google Image)

Puli Kali

It is a recreational folk art from the state of Kerala. Performed by trained artists to entertain people on the occasion of Onam. The annual harvest festival, to entertain revelers, mainly in the Thrissur district of Kerala. Pulikali meaning “play of the tigers”, Pulikali performances revolve around the theme of tiger hunting. The performing artists sport bright body paintings of tigers and hunters in yellow, red, and black.

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